Failure = weakness, right?
I’ve recently had a bit of a brainwave – failure is not a sign of weakness, failing makes you stronger.
Like a lot of people, I don’t like feeling that I’ve failed at anything but I’ve never really recognised what effect that has on my day to day life. A couple of
months ago I wrote about how I want to make 2017 the year of getting strong. As part of that I’ve upped the amount of weights based workouts I’m doing. I was getting a frustrated that I’m not really making any progress. I still can’t do proper push ups, and none of the weights I’m lifting seem to be getting any heavier. So I did a bit of research, do I need some obscure supplement? Is my technique wrong? Do I need to do more sessions? Or less?
No. It turns out what I need to do is fail. Every time I go to the gym I’ll pick up the weight above the one I last used, heft it about a bit and then think “Oh no, I’ll never be able to do 8/10/12 reps with that, I’d better stick with the one I used last time”. Now I’ve been told hundreds of times that it’s those last 2 or 3 reps, that make the difference, but I’ve obviously never listened to that (sorry Jennie!) But failing is not something I regularly do – because my minds says “If you’re can’t do it easily, you’re failing and you don’t want to be a failure”
But unless you try, how do you succeed? If you don’t take the risk, how do you progress? And what’s if you don’t fail, you might actually succeed. So last weekend I went to the gym with the aim of letting myself fail. I successfully deadlifted 20kg more than I ever had before. I could only lift it 3 times rather than the 6 I’d been aiming for, but I’m choosing to think of that as successfully lifting an extra 20kg for 3 reps, rather than failing to lift it for 6 reps. I’m pretty chuffed with that. Next time I’ll do 4 reps…
I started to think beyond the gym, how not letting myself fail might be holding me back in other ways. I can think of loads of times in my life where I have not done something purely because I don’t want to fail and look stupid or weak. Passing by opportunities at work? Yes. Keeping my mouth shut in meetings when I really could have spoken up? Yes (especially frustrating when someone else says what you were thinking and gets showered with praise for it). Not trying a new activity or hobby? Yes. Brazenly eaten all the food, because if you eat everything, you’re not “on a diet” so therefore you can’t fail at losing weight? Yes.
But whats if you don’t fail?
But what’s if you don’t fail? Whats if you do take the risk? And you do the extra 20kg on your deadlift. Or say yes to that amazing opportunity. So what if you fail? Is it weakness? Or is there strength in trying?
It seems that it’s only by failing that you realise how strong you really are and that’s a lesson I’m determined to roll out to the rest of my life too.
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