Failing is Sometimes the Best Option

CrossFit Lando – Woburn and CrossFit Lando – Canal Park are closed Thursday, November 19. Both locations will re-open for full schedule on Friday morning. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this tough time.


One of the toughest things to deal with in any part of life is failure. Accepting failure in my opinion is the absolute most difficult thing for a person to do and the inability to do so gracefully can lead to some serious personality and character issues. Sometimes lasting, sometimes temporary, but either way the older we get and the more failures we stack up the more negative, bitter, defensive, and outright angry we can become. What accepting failure looks like exactly is up to interpretation but how we react, learn, and grow from these instances shape us into who we are each day.


Bottom line is failure is hard to deal with for many reasons, but it can also be an incredible tool for learning. I readily admit that I am very much so a person who learns the hard way. Not that I don’t like to listen to people but I just have a hard time listening to advice the first time around…from people, so I have accepted that my life is full of bad situations that are simply due to my own doing. I do think, however, that I am a better person in many facets of my life because I always look for ways to learn from my mistakes. There are many so I have learned a lot along the way.


In the gym we face a lot of failure. If you think about it you can probably find a time you failed every day in the past week. This is a good thing! The most common situation is something we want you to do almost every day which is in our lifting sessions. Failing a squat, press, deadlift, and so on, teaches us where our limits are. This is useful in that we should know just for our knowledge but also so we can assess development in our fitness, where we are compared to our goal timeline, and if we need to make adjustments to our program, schedule, etc. When performing the olympic lifts (snatch, clean/jerk) this is even more so true.


Snatch days and tears tend to go hand in hand in our world. I have had my share of lifting meltdowns and certainly have coached many athletes through a meltdown spurred by a frustrating lifting session. Believe me I am not going to say you should accept failure as inevitable and “OK”, but accepting that it is going to happen and that it isn’t always a bad thing is a different story. Here at CrossFit Lando, much of what we teach in terms of technique has roots in cause and effect. It isn’t enough to just coach the specific issue as there is usually something before it that made that situation happen. For example when an athlete fails a press because they pressed the bar too far forward in their rise we try to go beyond teaching you to “press the bar up not forward”. Hopefully you are all at the point where if any coach corrected you in that way and stopped there you would look at us and say “no shit”. When an athlete presses forward in their overhead lift there is usually a reason such as dropping of the elbows, improper dip, etc. Learn the cause, stop the effect.


Yesterday saw a great deal of failure since there was a snatch complex and difficult hang snatches in the workout. I wouldn’t blame anyone if you admitted that you had a fit at some point yesterday. Anyone who has been at Woburn a few years remembers my jumprope hanging in memorial over the WODify TVs during the Opens in 2014 after I tossed it in anger after 14.1. It happens. What I want, however, is for all of you, all of us, to always remember to learn from the failure. Snatching especially can only be progressed if we fail! Missing the bar in front of you is telling you something. Not being able to lock out is telling you something. Clipping your knees on the way up is telling you something. Almost any failure has a lesson to be learned. If you aren’t sure what that is (which I wouldn’t expect anyone to) that is what us coaches are here for!


Failure is an inevitability that none of us want to face. Unfortunately it’s going to happen. You can recite as many nice motivation sayings as you want about refusing failure but those words aren’t making you better. Strong people don’t refuse to fail. Strong people embrace their failures and make themselves stronger from it. Being strong is cool.

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