Candrea on Coaching: Finding Success in Failure

May 26, 2016, 10:18 a.m. (ET)


One of the most common lessons learned in playing our sport is handling failure.  I cannot think of a sport where you are successful 30% of the time and you are considered a good performer and even achieve fame.  Yes, if you think about hitting, if you hit .300 on most levels, you are considered a great hitter yet you are failing 70% of the time.  I would never consider going to a surgeon that has a success rate of 70%.  This is one of the greatest lessons learned by playing baseball or softball and it is a lesson that will last a lifetime.  How do we draw from our failures in life and realize that failure is just part of the process to being successful?

If you look at history, you will find that our most successful people failed numerous times before inventing the car, airplane, light bulb – you name it.  So how can we take these sometimes hard lessons and bad feelings and in turn, overcome and learn from them in a positive way on our way to success?

The first step is to understand the definition of resiliency.  I will use the dictionary definition of “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like”.  Once thought to be something one is born with, it has been found to be a developed characteristic.  Let’s take it a step further and say that it is not only a developed characteristic, it is a part of the competitive athletic experience and a positive attribute that comes out of one’s failures and difficulties in sports.  In other words, resiliency is a byproduct of the athletic failures one refuses to accept, and difficulties that one chooses to see as challenges to overcome.

Whether an athlete strikes out (Mickey Mantle’s career strike outs would have equaled one entire year of his career) with the bases loaded to end a game; misses a shot with a chance to win a game  (Michael Jordan did this 9,000 times!) or simply fails to make a team, gets cut from a team, or doesn’t qualify to state, or the like, ALL come with a choice.

The most powerful choice we have in life is to accept or not to accept failure.  We must instead vow to change our circumstances and look at it as an opportunity to grow, learn, and take the next step towards success.  I use the term with my team of “turning the page”.  As we turn the page though, we must be committed to being resilient and have positive intentions to change. 

As Nobel Prize – winning author George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) put it:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

Failure is painful however; we also know that failing can be very beneficial for long-term success.  Indeed, sports practice meticulously focuses on, and even records, failures in order to later improve a player’s game.  Here, I argue that it is this view of failures as “success in progress”, rather than as negative events, that can help us achieve our goals better in the long term.

Until next time,


Coach Candrea