Flipping the Boat

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Your world seems to fall here. Air so cold and fingers so numb, you would barely know when it happened. But you do. As your grip slips, it takes only seconds before you realize. Gravity unforgivingly pulls you from your scull and into the frigid grasp of the river. Enveloped by waves, time stands still. Weeks of progress rowing were diluted with one careless mistake. Some people rocked the boat, and I flipped it. The truth is, that rationale made my failure easier to digest. Failure was something that demanded my justification, commanded my thoughts, and seized my progress. It imprisoned my freedom, and freed my fears. It disgusted me. Floating to the surface, these buoyant thoughts remained; How would I free myself? As my double’s partner and I speed back to the dock in my coach’s launch, a deluge of emotion surfaces. Is it anger? Frustration? Disappointment? Denial? Refusing to incarcerate these feelings, I let them flow naturally. Slowly a bolder, more novel concept surfaces, Acceptance. I deal with an uncomfortable reality; I flipped the boat. Half-expecting the walls of my psyche to come crashing down, I noticeably wince. Nothing happens. After the numbing pain of the cold has departed, these questions still float within me. Standing on the dock, I appreciate the weight of the waves. They charge forward to an unmarked destination, without fear of the unknown. Trusting the current, they invest themselves fully into the now. Why can’t I be like them? But then, I notice a backsplash. And then another. Can the seemingly uniform power and majesty of a river current experience resistance? Even nature engages in momentary power struggles with that which battles progress. So why show fear in doing the same? Here is where I did flip the boat. A fear of the unknown no longer confines me. That day, I had flipped the boat on my personality and ignited a side of myself that now burns for adventure and mastery of an unknown world.Progress came slowly, but those opaque waters could never regain the power they once had. As my oars found confidence in gliding over waves, so did I. I found myself coming 2nd in the novice 4x state championship. I found myself rowing in varsity races. I found myself because I learned that failure is not something to dread. Failure is a learning experience. It does not imprison, but rather liberates. Opening to an endless corridor of possibility, failure is the only key to finding success, to reaching my dreams.As what is distant approaches, I cannot help but feel my old psyche creeping, fear of failure stalking. But I refuse to allow vulnerabilities to keep me from the future. Pursuing dreams and aspirations that differ from the norm is not someone else’s destiny; it is mine. The world is constantly redefined by those who know their fear, and allow it to propel the future. It evolves on the backs of those who encourage exploration into the murkier waters, those who are glad to flip the boat.

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