Some else who sometimes lost is Olympic champion, Adam Kreek (thanks Ben). His TED talk above provides some great turns of phrase on the embracing failure theme –

  • Power of Non-Attainment: “If we fail happily and we fail more effectively, we gain more self-confidence, we have greater self-esteem, we have more connection to each other.”
  • Seek Failure: “Jake [Adam asked his teammate], How are you so successful?’…[Jake replied] ’I seek failure…Every week we train every day Monday through Saturday and I will willing pick out on workout where I will push myself through my known limit. And I will embrace failure. In fact, my body will fail on me. And for the rest of the week, I will know what this limit is…and I will hover below it. And in fact, the great point of growth occurs right below your limit’.”
  • Capacity Bubble: “Everyone of us has a ‘capacity bubble’. A capacity to achieve, to find success, to find fulfilment, to find happiness in life. We can choose to stay in the center of our capacity bubble and slowly let that bubble shrink. Or we can hover around the edges of our capacity bubble and let that bubble grow. And if you’re impatient and you want that bubble to grow as fast as possible, what should you do? You should be right at the edge of your capacity bubble…”
  • Happy Failure: “…And how do you know where your edge is? You fail. You don’t just fail…you’re happy about it.”

I’ve included Kreek’s two charts illustrating the “capacity bubble” and the “happy failure matrix” below. The “capacity bubble” echoes my own theme of “dream bubbles”. They drive you the greater things, they are meant to be broken (for happy and for sad reasons), and the greatest growth occurs not in achieving them, but just short of achieving them.

This weekend I will be up at Nottingham cheering on the best of British rowing who will be pulling hard to break through their limits at British National Rowing Championships (including Ben). If you fail, may it be a happy one.


Adam Creek - Capacity Bubble


Adam Kreek - Happy Failure Matrix