It’s natural for us to parade around the amazing things that we do – we celebrate our successes. But just telling everyone out there what we did that was so great doesn’t really tell the whole story does it?
Fencing is very much about learning how to grow from things when they go badly, because let’s face it – things don’t always go perfectly in life or on the strip.
Losing fear of failure
People who are the most successful in life are also the people who see their lives as a whole story, rather than only looking back and seeing the rosy times. That’s because in order to learn more about your life and more about who you are as a person, you’ve got to see it all. Ignoring the struggles only sets you up to be afraid of them in the future, to feel overwhelmed and out of control.
Fear is an enemy when it comes to life and when it comes to fencing. Being afraid means never trying anything new, never putting yourself out there. Looking at life head on is so important, without flinching and without worrying about something bad happening. Confidence is the opposite of fear, feeling secure in the choices that you’ve made and the way that your life has played out. Confidence matters on the strip because it teaches us to take more chances, to adapt more readily to our opponents, and to push ourselves to be better than we were before.
For most people, it’s the fear of failing that holds them back in life, more than anything else. We are afraid to be wrong or to fail because it must mean that there is something inherently wrong with us if we don’t get something right – but it’s just not true! Whether you succeed or not, your worth isn’t about that. In fact, you’re all the more valuable when you fail because it means that you were brave enough to try.
We see it all of the time in fencing. People don’t compete because they are afraid. They shy away from difficult opponents because they’re afraid. Or worse, they come in and don’t take fencing lessons seriously because they are afraid!
Looking your failure straight in the face takes its teeth away, making it much harder for you to feel as though you’re not worth it. You ARE worth it!
Often failure has much less to do with you as a person and much more to do with things that were far out of your control. You can only bring the best of who you are to a situation, you cannot control what someone else brings to it or a whole host of other factors.
For example, you work hard, you are fencing wonderfully, but then you enter a competition after a week of sickness. Or you entered a competition is a category/age that much above your level in order to push yourself harder, then you lose to a fencer who is far better than you. Or you could find yourself with a delayed flight and walk into competition just at the last minute, unable to get a good warmup in before you fence and so don’t perform your best. Though these were each a loss, it’s still amazing that you were able to put yourself out there to that level and you also learn a lot from each experience.
You cannot expect to win no matter what and so punish yourself for failure. While there are certainly always things that we could have done more effectively, things that we could have done better, we also must recognize that many more things are out of our control – everything from equipment failure to injury.
Recognizing that all you can offer is your best is absolutely freeing – it allows you to see your life from a wide angle and to let go of overburdened expectations. When you do your best, when you give your all to what you’re doing, then you don’t have to be afraid. You realize that control isn’t everything, and you find confidence.
An example resume of failure
What might a resume of failures look like for a fencer? Here’s an example.
Competitions I did not qualify for
- 2016 Junior Olympics Championship
- 2014 Summer Nationals
- 2015 July Challenge
Ratings I did not earn
Matches that I didn’t win
- October 2015 – Local tourney final bout
- January 2016 – Regional tournament first DE bout
Now for the assignment – go out and write your own resume of failures! Look back without guilt or judgement, only with pride at the things that you’ve been willing to try.
We could refer only to the original resume, but the point is important – you will fail, you will fail actually more than you think you would. And it is not because of you, but a lot of time it is because the situation is out of your control.
Putting together a resume of your failure will allow you to figure out where those weaknesses are and to make them a part of you. Be proud of the times that you failed! Those times of failure mean that you were willing to push yourself, to make your life and your fencing better than it was before, even if it doesn’t work out quite the way that you would have liked it to.
I am sure you will be able to do a very nice spin on this. I believe this is an important message for people to learn – failure is a part of life.
You cannot succeed without failing