Friday, November 22, 2013

On Failure And Its Lessons

So my daughter didn't make her high school's varsity soccer team. She had played 6 years of club ball, worked out on her skills on her own using what I'd taught her about deliberate practice and even worked with a private trainer on her speed over the summer and fall. I have no doubt in my mind that she put in far more effort than any other girl on that team.

My girl is 5' 3" tall. When we played club games, almost everyone else on the field was a good 4" taller than her. A taller girl means longer legs, longer legs means greater speed. After he cut her, the coach told me that the only thing that held her back was her speed. She just couldn't keep up with the pace of the game.

She was distraught when she learned that she hadn't made the team. She'd missed out on club teams before, but she'd never had a rejection like this one. She really wanted it and had worked like crazy for it. She wondered if all of her work had been a waste of time. As her dad and her biggest fan, I had to suppress the pain I felt and help her pull lessons out of the wreckage all the while letting her know that I couldn't be prouder of her or love her more. I had hoped that her soccer career would end with a celebration of her senior year participation on the varsity team. Instead, it's ended in her junior year before the season even begins.


Among the lessons I'm hoping to help her learn are these:
  • How good you have to be to rise to the top of your field
  • Hard work doesn't guarantee success, but the lack of hard work guarantees failure
  • Deliberate practice works - she saw this in the dramatic change in her skills when she started using it
  • Life was richer and more passionate when she was pursuing her goal even if she didn't make it
  • Eventually you may be limited by your innate abilities, but you can go a lot farther than others expect through hard work. Her last two seasons of club ball had her facing off against opponents much larger than her and she was always able to hold her own
  • You can outsmart many of your limitations. She played outside defender and while she was never able to leap frog the midfielder in front of her and play offensive ball, she learned how to play defense so that her lack of speed wasn't much of a disadvantage
Finally, there is pain and failure in life. You can only avoid it by never trying to accomplish anything and in the end, that way leads to inner despair. She's a tough girl and I'm convinced she's going to have a happy and successful life. This is just a new turn in the road, not the end of everything.

On the plus side, she went full Cheick Tiote on a bunch of girls during tryouts and flattened them. She may not be fast, but, by God, you know she's on the field.


W.C. Varones said...

You've got a failure of your own there with the apostrophe in the title.

K T Cat said...

My life is in ruins!

K T Cat said...

Fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

Mostly Nothing said...

Sorry to hear that. I know how much she loves soccer. She should be proud of her effort. Don't give up. My son barely made the Freshman basketball team two years ago. Last night, he started Varsity. He works hard, and that impresses coaches. Isn't there a JV? Why not try out next year? Things change.

Moxie D. Hoxie said...

When I was in high school, I wasn't good enough to make the gymnastics team. I decided that I was still going to be a part of the team, and joined as team manager--I had a GREAT time, still got to practice with the team. I only wish I had thought of doing that in college, and continued as a manager. (I never did get good enough, but I still had a great time!)