What Terry Crews Taught Me About Failure
“I knew from then on that I could have the courage to fail on my own terms.”
In Tim Ferriss’s Tribe of Mentors, failure is a large theme.
This may seem surprising. Why discuss failure if identifying habits that lead to success is the goal of the book?
Well, in many cases — if not all — failures do lead to success.
That’s why, of the 11 questions Ferriss asks all his participants, one is solely related to failure: “How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a ‘favorite failure’ of yours?”
Almost everyone that responded to the question had a strong takeaway from a failure, with the lessons learned helping set them up for success in the field they’ve chosen.
There were many good failure stories in the book with a variety of different types of failures. This from Terry Crews, after he missed a game-winning shot in a high school basketball game, was my favorite of them all:
“The coach afterward told the whole team that I had no business taking that shot and I should have passed it to our star player. It was in the paper the next day that I failed, and I was beyond crushed. A dark cloud covered me everywhere I went as I internalized the loss.
“A few days later, as the fog of failure began to lift, I remember having a rare time alone in my room (I usually shared it with my brother). As I sat in the silence, another thought pierced through my sadness. ‘I took the shot.’ It was invigorating, even exciting. ‘Hey, when all the chips were on the line, you didn’t leave your future up to others, YOU TOOK YOUR SHOT.’ Instantly I felt free and in control. I knew from then on that I could have the courage to fail on my own terms.”
Having the ability to take the positives out of a negative situation as a high school student was a clear sign that Crews had a bright future in front of him. Realizing how freeing it is to fail on your own terms is something many people don’t figure out until they’re 5–10 years older than Crews was at that time.
Taking your shot will absolutely lead to some failures. But it will also lead to some successes, too. Failing on your own terms is freeing, empowering, and will teach you lessons that eventually lead to success.
Being scared of failing guarantees no chance at success. Any venture worth fighting for leaves you vulnerable to failure. Taking the easy, non-challenging path will severely limit your upside of achievement — in both income and fulfillment.
When Crews tried to take his team’s success into his own hands, he understood the potential rewards had he made the shot. When he missed, he realized the downside — criticism from his coach and the local media.
He did nothing wrong, though. He tried and failed, as we all do in some form or fashion.
But he made it through the shame. He didn’t get the outcome he wanted and that’s OK. You can’t win them all.
Once Crews realized this, the mindset he developed helped him achieve success few in his field have.
So here’s my challenge to you: look at your past failures. What did you do wrong, if anything? Why did you fail? Can you change anything to achieve success next time? Is it even worth it to attempt that feat again?
Failing can be good if you want it to be. There are positive outcomes in everything if you want there to be. Take challenges head-on and search for those positive takeaways whenever possible.