Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Learning from failure [experience]

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure [experience]. ~General Colin Powell~

I saw this quote about a year ago and have had it in the back of my mind as I pursued my goals over the last year. The only thing I might change is the word failure. I would rather use the word ‘experience’. Everything we do adds valuable experience to call on that we can use to better ourselves in the future.

Our choice is how we use it. If you truly view your experience as a failure and give up, nothing is gained. I like to analyze my experience to discover what I might do better the next time.

One thing I learned from experience is that to reach my full potential I needed to make my goals public. In the past, I set goals and then never told anyone. This made it easier on me when I gave up or failed miserably because no one ever knew and I was not accountable. When I began getting in shape and eventually when I started running, I decided to change this. When Idaho Power put together the health fair video they gave me the opportunity to go and speak at the health fairs. At the end, I told the employees that one of my success factors was to set goals and tell everyone who would listen what they were because your friends and family will hold you accountable.

At the last one I attended, I told the group about my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon in October. I also asked every person in the room to call me or send me an email on October 5th to see how I did. In May, I was about 20 minutes off my goal pace and had no idea if it was even possible. When I wanted to give up during training and even during the race I thought back to this day.

Had I not met my goal I still would have considered it a great success. The whole experience taught me a lot that day that I can use to improve next time.

1) Get in the starting line well before the start so I am not stuck in traffic early in the race.
2) Do not risk injury by running in the weeds on the side of the road to get around people.
3) Double knot my shoes so I do not have to stop and re-tie them at mile 15 (no brainer).
4) Do not settle in to someone else’s pace in front of me.
5) On race day trust your plan and trust your pace without second-guessing it.
6) When you want to give up keep pushing and be happy knowing you gave it everything you had regardless of the time on the clock when you cross the finish line.
7) Never let anyone tell you something is not possible.

I would like to thank Christie for getting me thinking about this, which reminded me to put it in writing.  As a side note, a number of people from that health fair asked me if I met my goal in the week following the race.  Being accountable worked.


  1. I ran across this one again today. One of my favorites of all your entries! I'm taking your words to heart and remembering all the things I've done right in my past races and all the things I did WRONG, as well, as I prepare for this first 100 miler. And, it's so true that I truly have come away with MORE from my mistakes than my successes at times!

  2. Interesting, you just made this list from previous experiences today. Time to put it in writing on your blog!


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