We live in a culture that values success above almost anything else. Success is rewarded with wealth, status, and privilege, and we strive to succeed in our careers, marriages, parenting and other endeavors.
Further, those who belong to the triathlon sub-culture are driven to define success by finisher medals, personal bests and podiums. As most triathletes know, failure is almost always part of the process, and success typically comes after learning from multiple failed attempts.
"Failure is proof that you're trying."
We publicly display our successes, but failure is usually hidden away. We deny that failure not only exists, but happens even to the best among us.
While failure sometimes has a negative connotation, it can be a good thing. Failure often presents athletes with an opportunity to accept defeat, or learn and persevere.
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"Getting back up erases all the falls."
Whether it's a personal, professional or athletic ambition that's not realized, failure demonstrates that a lofty goal was sought. We do not fail at that which is easy or free.
Failure only comes to those who strive for more and come up short on initial attempts. Just as previous success is not necessarily indicative of future success, past failure is not indicative of future failure.
Regroup, reanalyze and formulate a new plan for those lofty things worth pursuing.
"You can't fail if you don't quit. You can't succeed if you don't start."
Failure can become defeat, or it can become valuable information and lessons learned. Many successful individuals cite their many failures as a reason for their success.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."
This's not justification for stubbornness or inflexibility, but rather an opportunity to adapt and try again.
"I tried is better than I wish I had tried."
Perhaps the basic common thread among endurance athletes is the desire to push beyond what one believes is possible or society deems reasonable. A certain amount of failure is inevitable in a lifestyle that continues to challenge status quo and preconceived limitations.
When that event comes, persevere, learn the appropriate lessons and carry on.