An Elegy for Failure

Failure is unavoidable. And fear of failure can sometimes be a great motivator.

But that fear can be a double-edged sword. The fear of failing a test or class, being left behind in school, or not making it in the professional world has left far too many people suffering from anxiety and depresssion.

If failure is unavoidable, then true health will only be realized when we learn how to fail. One grows from failure through mindfulness. As the Dalai Lama famously said, ‘Forget the failures. Keep the lessons.’

Easier said than done, right? Kids and adults alike struggle with letting go.

But if we don’t learn to fail, then we will fail to learn.

My faith in grappling flourishes from that last claim. Wrestling is the most difficult sport on Earth, and it creates a representative environment for life’s challenges. With the correct coaching and mentorship, we will learn how to fail.

Consider the physical metaphors of trying to escape an opponent’s grasp, or being thrown to the ground and pinned, with no one else on the mat to help. A combatant perpetually struggles to either lift or get out from under the weight of the situation.

From Marcus Aurelius, the great Stoic philosopher, ‘The act of living is more like the wrestler’s lot than that of the dancer’s in this regard, that it must stand ready and firm to meet whatever happens to it, even when unforeseen.’

The Stoics–from Epicetus to Abraham Lincoln–loved wrestling because it helped them ‘keep the lessons’ from failure. Now, neurobiologist are also diving into how seeking out failure can help our minds grow (i.e., neuroplasticity). Check out the Huberman Lab vignette below.

These are the ideas that formed HHGC’s motto…’Touch the Ground. Find Your Strength.‘ Committing yourself to the harsh realities of failure and repeatedly coming back to the mat to learn from your errors will provide you with strength that transcends the practice space.

Perhaps as the great Stoic wrestlers would advise, ‘Hoc opus, hic labor est.’

Drop us a line, and we hope to see you on the mat soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: