Free Flow Failure

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Michael Jordan

I’m sure many of us parents have been there, stood on the side of the pitch (for me as a Dad it is now Rugby). A cold night under the floodlights for training and the boys love it!

And so it was on the way home…and my son says he felt like he really wanted to get on the ball that night and make some runs (in a way that said he wouldn’t usually)…so I asked – don’t you usually feel that way? His response surprised me as despite his obvious talent for the game (proud Dad moment – he is cracking player!) he said that he was worried about making a mistake and dropping the ball.

It raised something in my head about failure, failure to perform how we exactly want, failure to please others and possibly failure to please ourselves.

Randy Couture (famous Ultimate Fighting Champion and Olympic wrestler) once said that he only ever became the fighter he did when he learned to embrace losing. And I think this is critical to allowing ourselves to work, perform, live without the brakes on…to be in flow…to perform at our best… and have fun!

Possibly like many in my generation I grew up with a very fixed belief that failure in any shape or form was bad, VERY BAD!

How many of us underachieve, hold back, stay in the comfort zone, regret not having gone for it..?

Turning Failure On Its Head

I love an article I read on the founder of the billion-dollar hosiery and apparel company Spanx, Sara Blakely. Her dinnertime experience of growing up was to be asked by her Dad what she had failed at that week. As she said “If I didn’t have something that I had failed at, he actually would be disappointed.”

So it turns failure on its head, if you’re not failing then you aren’t giving yourself the best shot, your playing it safe, possibly living with fear and anxiety about largely self created expectation (are you in the arena or standing on the side-lines with what if’s?)


When I was on Special Forces selection, a few of us coined the phrase ‘SIP – Self Induced Pressure.’ As if we needed to make things any harder for ourselves we realised we were creating a very high percentage of our own stress.

‘Flow states’ are the optimal mind state to be in to not only achieve high performance but also well being and happiness. As mental chatter subsides and the body acts of its own free will, the experience of effortless performance flows out of its self.

To really feel free flow we have to let go of failure, to run with the ball and let lose, to take on the new challenge at work, in life. Take the leap of faith positively because we either succeed or it fails…but failing on the path towards something greater is a mighty achievement.

Failure is you being authentic. It is liberating and even fun once you change your mindset. If you are failing then you are ‘doing it’ rather than talking or thinking about it!

Five takeaways:

  1. Recognising you are staying in the comfort zone due to fixed beliefs is the first stage
  2. Once we externalise the fear of failure we often see that it isn’t the ‘big deal’ we are making it
  3. Taking liberated action is empowering (whether it works or not!)
  4. Changing our mindset towards failure, seeing challenge as opportunity, opens up a world of possibility
  5. Ask yourself where you are holding back…what could you take on this week without a fear of failure?


3rg help individuals and organisations take action towards a shift in performance and wellbeing. If you would like to discuss working with the 3rg team please contact or


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