Why I Believe Everyone Should Fail

“Failure should be your teacher, not your attacker. Failure is a lesson, not a loss. It is a temporary, necessary detour, not a dead end.”

I recently saw this quote on one of my favorite websites. Instead of passing it by — as I do many — this particular post spoke to me.

No, I didn’t have this revolutionary ah-ha moment, but I did however take a step back and think about all the moments in my life that I have “failed”.

And trust me, there have been plenty.

From quizzes and texts in high school to missing my AFAA Group Fitness Certification exam by one, yes ONE, point.

I was in college — my senior fall — and I had decided to go after this certification in hopes of one day in the distant future becoming an indoor cycling instructor. Mind you, I graduated with my BFA in art history — a far cry from the field I now work in.

After busting my ass for months studying for an exam based around exercise science, kinesiology and music phrases (all of which I knew nothing about), I spent one very long afternoon in our campus rec center taking this 9-hour certification course.

While I passed the practical with flying colors — I’ve always been more of a presenter than test taker — it was time to get comfortable, grab our #2 pencils and complete the written portion of the exam.

Even though this was 6 years ago, it honestly feels like yesterday.

About an hour later I finished my composition book of an exam and turned it into the proctor. 4 long weeks passed before I was mailed my results.

Fail. 22 points to pass, I received 21. Fuck.

I vividly remember calling my mom as I was holding back tears and walking to my dorm room. She did what all caring, compassionate people do and listened. And then she gave me sound advice, a quote that I will always remember from one of my favorite books:

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

And she was right.

Instead of sulking in my own sadness, I picked myself up, studied harder and went back to retake the exam. I passed, and of course, the next 6 years building my career in the fitness industry has proven successful.

The point is this: If I had let that moment of failure detour me from becoming an instructor, I would never be where I am today. The people I’ve met, trained, chatted and worked out with are exceptional.

I genuinely believe I needed that failure to prove to myself how badly I really wanted to work in this industry.

Because, after all, a detour just takes you on a different path. It’s structurally set up to reroute you, not derail you. And while this uncharted path may get confusing along the way — the end result is worth the journey.

You just have to be willing to drive on a new road.

What kind of failures have you experienced? 

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