We’ve all failed at something and one of the biggest failures I’ve had is also one of my most memorable because of what it taught me. Here is a lesson from the snowy mountains of Canada which might be quite novel for those of you who do not live in cold winter climates.
I was certified as a Level 1 ski instructor by the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance here in Canada back in 1990. However, I always wanted to become a Level 2 instructor so after a few years, I decided to take the Level 2 certification course which is five days in length.
Failing my course
This Level 2 course turned out to be one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. It was an intensive program with both on-snow and indoor sessions for five days straight.
On the slopes, I quickly found that my ski technique on the steep ‘black diamond’ slopes was not quite up to Level 2 standards. My short radius quick turns were also not up to the course conductors’ liking. As a result of these factors, I ended up failing the course.
Using failure as my teacher
Of course I was quite disappointed for failing since I don’t even remember the last time I ever failed a course. However, this experience taught me what I needed to work on. It clearly suggested that if I ever wanted to become a Level 2 ski instructor, I must improve on my ski weaknesses.
So for the entire next ski season, I made it my main objective to specifically train intensively on the black diamond slopes and doing short radius turns. By the following winter, I was ready to retake the Level 2 course.
Further challenges came up
The retest was at a bigger ski resort called Blue Mountain and this resulted in further challenges. There were not only black diamond slopes at Blue Mountain but there were also ‘double black diamonds’. Theses double blacks are even steeper than the single black diamonds I had trouble on!
The steepest slope at Blue Mountain is this double black diamond called ‘Elevator Shaft’. You can just imagine how steep it is from its name. None of us thought that the course conductors were actually going to make us go on ‘Elevator Shaft’. But guess what happened?
Sure enough, they made us ski down ‘Elevator Shaft’ as part of our test not just once, but three separate times back to back! This was probably one of the most nerve-racking experiences I have ever had. You can imagine just how anxious my ski classmates and I were.
Success finally comes
At the end of my retest, the lead course conductor told me that I actually skied well enough to finally pass the Level 2 program. The specific training I did during the entire last season paid off.
The interesting thing is that I probably wouldn’t have gone through that type of training if I hadn’t failed the Level 2 course the first time around. After eight years since becoming a Level 1 instructor, I was finally skiing at the Level 2 standard, which is considered to be a very respectable ski level.
So in my case, the failure during the first time taught me what my weaknesses were and how to train to overcome them. It directed me to focus and zero in on what I really needed to do in order to get to the next level of ski instructor.
Accept failures as your guide to success
This process can be applied to pretty well anything else you want to achieve in life. For example, in any sport whether team or individual, losing is part of the game, even for champions. When you lose, analyze how you or your team could have played better.
The same thing with business and relationships. Failures in these areas really hurt and can be costly. But instead of just sulking, study what went wrong (as well as what went right) so that you could do better next time.
Failures are a part of life and cannot be completely avoidable, so we might as well use them to our advantage. If you want to move to a higher level in anything, be prepared to accept failures. As long as you use them as learning opportunities and apply what you’ve learned, success will eventually come.
Clint Cora is a motivational speaker, author & Karate World Champion based near Toronto, Canada. Get his FREE 3-part Personal Development Video Series on how to expand your comfort zone and finally conquer even your most daunting goals in life.