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Don’t be afraid to fail…

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”Semisonic

Another World Championship has come to a close and I remain ever the optimist. The nature of professional sport is that there will always be ebbs and flows, you just have to be willing to roll with the punches, endure the failures, believe and success will follow.

In 2003, I attended the World Champs in Barcelona and my campaign was an awful one to say the least. One year later, I returned to the world’s stage and subsequently won three Olympic medals in Athens.

Ten years on and I can say that I’m leaving Barcelona with a good deal more optimism.

Thoughts on my 50m freestyle event…My semifinal swim was a very solid one for me. It was exactly the performance my coach and I were expecting. The goal was to make it into the final with as smooth and fast a swim as possible. We knew there was no room for error and it was going to take a fast time to make it into the top eight.

What happened in the final? The 50m free was a strange final without question. What I mean by that is the Olympic champion who was expected to medal didn’t and several others swimmers who were expected to be in the mix weren’t at all.

From a personal perspective, I don’t feel as though I put together a good race.

There is such a fine balance in respect of effort and relaxation. The harder you try in a sprint event, the more resistance you encounter and the quicker you fatigue. The ultimate winner is the individual who can maintain his rhythm and relaxation optimally.

I believe that I’m back on track to being “that guy.”

The photo you see in the piece is one my coach and I created after World Championship trials. In life, we all have to find a way to be “that guy” or “that girl,” the person who believes in themselves and isn’t afraid to fail.

I want to examine a recent quote of mine: “Don’t be afraid to fail, success will come.”

Throughout history, the world has had individuals who were unwilling to give up on a dream, a goal or a belief. These individuals endured failures, criticism, defeat and often sacrificed everything to get to where they knew they could in life.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked” imagination. Before her success, JK Rowling was a single mom struggling to get by. In his first screen test, Fred Astaire was told he couldn’t act or sing, while the legendary Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

The most common theme among successful individuals, whatever their vocation, is their refusal to give up. They are governed by their own set of beliefs, they do not let criticism stand in their way nor do they allow it to detract from their end goal.

I’m not suggesting that I’m the equivalent of any of the names I have mentioned above. However, what I’m emphasising is that I too, refuse to quit. I refuse to let critics stand in my way and dictate my future.

Why should I let anyone else in this world determine the future I am supposed to live? If I fail once, I’ll get up. If I fail one hundred times, I will get up again. I’m not afraid to fail.

I believe that too many people are afraid of reaching for their dreams. I’m living testament to every single one of you out there that success will find you. You will reach your dreams – just don’t ever be afraid to fail.

The failures, as painful as they are at the time, help us learn along the way and ultimately make our final victories that much sweeter.

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