Never failed to fail

If I were going to tattoo a song lyric on my body, it would be this one:

“We never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do.”
— "Southern Cross" - Crosby, Stills, and Nash

Kidding. I'd tattoo the lyrics to the Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira." Obvi. And for all of you that now have the song Elvira stuck in your head; well, you're welcome. For those of you that don't know that song:


He's surprised you don't know this song. 


This post isn't about 1980's country music though. It's about failure. Or rather, failure as a part of the process. The list of Abraham Lincoln's failures prior to becoming President of the United States are well documented, including his defeats in politics and business. And I'm a fan of his quote:

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
— Abraham Lincoln

That's easier said than done. I think we do lose our enthusiasm after a failure. But hopefully not forever. Hopefully, not for very long. 

In today's age of social media, where we can celebrate our large and small victories alike, sometimes it's easy to only see what someone is doing well. The advantage we have in our Facebook pages and Instagram accounts is showing only what we want the world to see. Which is why if you scroll through my Insta account, you'll see only videos of me deadlifting. I've become good at it over the years, and I'm proud every time I add more weight. In fact, last month I pulled 275lbs for one rep, a 10lb improvement over my previous best. I had not successfully pulled more than 235lbs in over a year. And trust me, I'd made plenty of attempts. 

The minute I hit my goal of 275, one that I’ve been actively training for since August of this summer, I posted that puppy all over social media. Hello Facebook, hello Instagram, and to all 12 of my followers on Twitter OMG HEY LOOK AT ME!! OMG USING ALL OF MY EXCLAMATION POINTS HERE!!!* It's a rush. You can see my celebration at the end. I'm feelin' it. 


I promptly went out to the parking lot and snacked on a bumper after this.


The lift above was nerve-wracking. I ended up at the gym during a cross-fit class, so there were 15 people off to my left, including the nice woman hanging out on the rings that smiles when I hit my lift. There was also a nice fellow in the background telling me to drive, drive, drive. I wasn’t sure if I’d eaten enough, prepared enough, warmed up enough. So when I completed the lift, ugly as it was, I was pumped enough to eat some metal. 

But if it's a rush to hit your personal goal, it can sometimes feel devastating to miss. Below is a video I sent to my coach Tony Gentilcore when I hit my previous personal best of 265lbs. 


The fails are in there. Several of them. It made for a good video, but I was frustrated. I questioned my progress and my process, and wondered if I'd maxed out on my strength gains. And despite my success with the deadlift, I've had my share of fails as I move into my fourth month of power lifting. Aside from testing my one rep max for the deadlift last month, I also tested it for the squat and the bench press. 

And I missed my goals for both. 

Here’s a video of the squat fail, which, much to my horror, happened in front of a group of dudes who spent the entire time doing curls, presumably to make their already massive arms massive-er. 


Not only was I disappointed, but humiliated and also a little dizzy. Yeah I'm seeing stars right there. And I’d be lying if I said I could just shake it off. The same went for my woeful bench press, where I hoped to hit at 100lbs, but settled for difficult 95. (It's worth noting that I should have had a spotter for the squat and generally try to do that. The safety rails had to suffice.)

Failure happens. Maybe not on social media, but in real life. And it's ok. It's part of the process. 

*As previously mentioned on this blog, all Gannon University alum who had Dr. Walter Minot know that we are only allotted five exclamation points in our lifetime.