Holly Holm made history over the weekend. One thunderous left high kick on Ronda Rousey’s cranium and BOOM! Everyone rooting for the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight champ jumped ship, calling Rousey’s previous wins a fluke! One loss and the Rousey fight fandom showed just how fickle they are. And like any fandom out there, showing just how human our idols are like everybody else can really change our perspective on them (not me).
Well, the truth is: Ronda Rousey isn’t invincible. She’s human and an athlete bound to lose at some point. She fucked up and that’s okay! Failing sucks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful thing. I’d like to enumerate the fails and wins of the most iconic people of the world. We have Thomas Edison who was crazy enough to try and fail 1,000 times when developing the prototype of the light bulb. There was Steve Jobs who was ousted from the company he built from scratch in his garage. Or Walt Disney, who experienced multiple rejections before carving a commercial feel-good empire that we know today as the Walt Disney Studio.
Indeed, to err is human. From personal experience, we know this to be true. We are far from being perfect. We know for a fact that society doesn’t reward defeat and that failure is considered a weakness. But we are wrong about our collective understanding of what it means to be wrong! In fact, a catastrophic failure is crucial to our success.
FAILURE: LIFE’S GREATEST TEACHER
Think about all the successful people you know, whether they are business magnates, sports legends, or inventors. From where these people are right now, it’s unimaginable how the roads that led them there were almost always crooked and full of hurdles. For Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, and Henry Ford among others, failure is a powerful tool to reaching their potential, and eventually, success!
Risk-takers are always those who experience triumph! They are the ones who aren’t afraid to fail. They don’t choose to play it safe or rehash safe ideas over and over again.
What I’m saying is that if you don’t choose to never attempt anything great, then, nothing significant will ever happen to you. Sure, you may stumble a lot of times or experience going bankrupt thrice, but isn’t it what life’s all about? Isn’t life a never-ending shift between successes and failures? So instead of shying away from potential failures, embrace them, take note of them, and learn everything you can from such bad experiences.
Those who have been in the trenches and survived countless battles have unparalleled experience and tenacity. Mistakes are only the by-product of unpolished attempts, so don’t mourn over them when you commit such. When you do, do something different, be better this time, and don’t be afraid to stick your neck out for the next attempt. What your attitude toward failure will pave the road to success.
Failure can teach us things that success can’t. Failure pushes us to reach for the impossible, to achieve our best, to think big, and to become more grounded individuals than we have ever been.
TAKE CALCULATED RISKS
When I watched the epic fight between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm at UFC 193, I knew right there and then that Holly Holm’s win wasn’t a piece of luck. She knew that Rousey would charge like a bull just like how she stormed over to Holm after their weigh in a day before the top-billed fight. Holm knew Rousey’s weakness and used it against her aggressive opponent.
Rousey was reckless. Whether or not she knew that Holm is an undefeated kick boxer and a top level striker who has a reach advantage, Rousey’s aggressiveness got the best of her. As a consequence, she got knocked out and looked less like the supreme fighter we knew.
Holm, an experienced fighter, knew that if she wasn’t careful enough and let Rousey near her at a specific distance, the top level grappler will force her to tap.
The takeaway here is to assess and decide whether or not the goal is worth the risk. Taking calculated risks, instead of flying blindly into the dark and hope for God to take the rest of the work is necessary to lessen the chances of failure. Although failure can be a good thing sometimes, it certainly won’t be if you fail to see it’s silver lining and make the necessary preparations before attempting anything. Seriously, don’t be stupid. Fail better and smarter!
THE GEM IN FAILING
Sure, failure isn’t fun. No one is insane enough to hope for failure to happen to him. We even try to avoid it as much as we can.
It’s alright to fail though, and I’m not saying this because my life is a long-list of stinging failures or that J.K. Rowling once experienced being broke before the breakout of the Harry Potter series. It’s okay to fail because it’s inevitable. You are going to fail at something sometimes- accept that and don’t be too hard on yourself when that happens.
What makes failure so beautiful is that it gives us a lot of opportunities to learn. It tells us which areas to improve upon, so the next time we come across something we’ve done incorrectly in the past, we’ll know exactly how to deal with it. We know how to keep things better. True failure is when you sulk in one corner and stop trying.
Failure also allows us to discover alternative paths. If you suck at sales, you might find yourself doing much better in other creative pursuits just like I did. It took me to a more satisfying path where I was happy with how things have gone. It made me grew into something I thought I wasn’t capable of.
Failure often helps us see ourselves, like a mirror reflecting our inadequacies. I won’t discount Rousey for one loss because she’s still one hell of a great fighter in her division and an Olympian, to boot! But there’s the glaring fact that sometimes, the UFC Women’s champ displays a nasty attitude and says shitty things to people. Her success got into her head that she started to underestimate her opponents, which she recently paid the price for. Her loss is a wake up call for her to look around and regain her focus; to learn new skills to become a better fighter; to acknowledge that there are people better than her; and most importantly, to learn how humility goes a long way.
For Holly Holm, who admitted to the press the tears she shed leading up to the fight, it was a sweet taste of success.
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all- in which case, you fail by default. — J.K. Rowling