Failure is an option

Took a brain break at work yesterday and read through a past edition of the Harvard Business Review called “The Failure Issue.” The whole magazine was devoted to talking about failure, about learning from it, experiencing it, bouncing back from it, and more. Sure, it was mostly applied to business, but as everyone who does BJJ knows, jiu-jitsu is life. 😉

Things that I picked out: we’re too quick to condemn failure as “bad” even when we know we’re supposed to be learning from it, that the lessons we extract are usually about how not to fail at all the next time. When really we need to be seeing failure not as a bad thing, but as an acceptable (sure, not desirable) outcome. What did fail vs. what did actually succeed. Conversely, when something does succeed, is it an unqualified success or was it really a near-miss with a fair bit of luck? (If we don’t recognize that our success was actually a failure that just didn’t fail this time, then next time our success might fail, and then we’ll be stumped.) That we should see failure as local, as only related to this one thing, and not an inherent part of ourselves. (Heh. Hello, me.)

Fundamentals Class, BJJ

Small class. Warmup, then partnered up for 3-minute rounds of bump sweep. Worked with Bobby and Rob. Then 3-minute rounds of bump sweep followed by partner doing the scrape mount escape to half guard. Then 3-minute rounds of bump sweep with partner doing mount escape to half guard + Old School. (Hm, I seem to have missed something somehow. Well, at one point, different pairs were doing slightly different things, and there was an odd number so someone was sitting out. Sometimes me. All sorts of confused.) Finished off with armbars from the guard. My hips suddenly decided they were tired. Um, that’s bad.


Five of us tonight, so Tim had us do round-robin sparring all night, 2-minute rounds. Will went first; I started with him. That also left me as the last one in at the end. Rob, Will, Buddy, and Jon.

If nothing else, all the thoughts from the articles earlier helped me relax. I wasn’t anxious when I screwed up; I seemed quicker to move past mistakes and start moving to the next thing. So that’s something.

3 thoughts on “Failure is an option

  1. Wow, this post really struck me on several levels. I was starting to look at failure as inevitable, but never acceptable 😉 Thank you for sharing.

    1. Yeah, that was kind of the “Well, how about that…” thing for me, too. Seems to be all about removing the bad connotation from the thought of failure. Think of it more like updating a draft of something; each time it gets a little better even though it’s not “perfect” right yet. Sure makes it easier to move on afterwards. (I noticed that in rolling later — I spent hardly any brain cells lamenting what I’d just missed, and instead could immediately move on to the new challenge.)

      “Success is never ending; Failure is never final.” ~Robert Schuller

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