Succeeding to fail

If you try to fail, and succeed: what have you done?

It’s one of my favourite rhetorical questions, and one that I’m reminding myself of a lot more now that I’ve returned to practising Parkour.

The human body is, without any doubt, the most amazing machine ever invented.  It’s like a great big physical neural network – whatever I put into it, it takes it on board and changes next sleep.  A good friend once told me “whatever you’re doing right now – whether it’s running, swimming, sitting or lying down – that’s what you’re training your body to do from now on”, and the words are very true.  This leads me into the topic I’m musing on this week: the idea of failure, and how it’s not always such a bad thing.

Yoda says: “Do, or do not.  There is not try”, and we live those words in parkour.  Every jump, a catch and vault must be fully committed to, it’s the only way to truly push our own boundaries.  In the absence of try though, what does exist is “fail”.  It’s amazed me how the parkour community – as well as a lot of other online communities – seem to have moved to concept of fail into a noun in its own right (to get an idea of what I’m talking about, check out any online forum like Sydney Parkour and do a search for fail: you come up with terms like “you’re full of fail”, “there’s fail in the water”, “the bitter taste of fail”, and even “the AIDS crabs live on fail”).  In parkour especially though, fail has another meaning – a good one.  Failing at something doesn’t just mean I didn’t succeed at it.  It means I tried my all, fully committed, pushed my limits, and didn’t succeed at it.  Not succeeding is the least of my worries – being fully committed, pushing my limits and trying my all is the key: those are the actions that improve my technique, increase my confidence, and most importantly – prompt my body to add enough flexibility/muscle mass etc. to get me closer every time.
In parkour, fail doesn’t just mean fail.  It means pushing yourself one step closer to success next time.

The human body truly is an amazing machine, and pushing it to success – even if I might get a bit of fail on me in the process – is easily the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt a part of.  It leads me to thinking that the human mind can’t be that different: that even if I can’t find that special solution, that phrase that’s just right, visualise that outcome or imagine the next step – so long as I’m trying my best, fully committing, and pushing my limits it doesn’t matter.  I’m not failing to be successful, I’m succeeding to fail.

Physically or mentally, are you truly pushing your limits?  Embrace the fail :)

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