A Unique Opportunity

A Unique Opportunity

Some of my best memories from growing up are from playing soccer.  Soccer was so important to me, and I put a ton of pressure on myself to play well.  On days when I did not, it could be challenging to deal with the frustration and anger that comes along with failure.  In high school, I had a coach who, every year on try-out day, would say, “I care more about how you respond to your mistakes than your mistakes themselves.”  In other words, he found that the best players were the ones who would fight to get the ball back as hard as they could if they lost it.

I was reminded of my coach’s words during the Pre-Health Panel when Lynette Wynn spoke about her experiences with failure.  Like the rest of the speakers on the panel, Lynette mentioned that she had received an undesirable grade in an important class during her time as an undergrad at U of M.  However, the perspective that she shared about this failure was very inspiring: failure gives you a unique opportunity to respond.  These were just the words I needed to hear that night — the blood battle that was the second general chemistry midterm was still fresh in my mind.  When I get back the score, I will be presented with a unique opportunity, and how I respond to it will be a great factor in how I do on the final exam.  I can sit back and accept my doom that the final will be equally impossible, or I can work twice as hard to do better.  No matter how I do on the final exam, I would rather be able to say that I couldn’t have studied harder for it, than to regret not doing more.  I hope that this is a lesson that I will take with me not only through the rest of the classes I will take here as an undergrad, but one that I can apply to every goal I want to achieve in life.

My questions for you all: how much impact can a positive perspective have on the goals you wish to achieve? How has failure shaped the person that you are today?

11 thoughts on “A Unique Opportunity

  1. You made an excellent point: it is often more important how we respond to mistakes/failure than the actual mistake itself. I think this can have a large impact on success, in part because if you never stop to analyze what is causing you to fail, you will never be able to overcome that and succeed. Failure has helped me to take a step back and think about the flaws in my process, rather than just the result.

  2. Great perspective! As I just took the second CHEM 130 exam, I can totally understand how you feel. It is encouraging to know that success does not rest on how many times we do things correct. We are humans and we will make mistakes. Success depends more heavily on how one responds to shortcomings and mistakes, striving daily to implement strategies and habits that will demonstrate education from experiences.

  3. I too related a sport to the message about bouncing back from failure. I was involved with basketball throughout my high school career. One of the main reasons I love the sport of basketball is because it is so quick that if I turned the ball over during one offensive possession, I could work hard on defense to get the ball back. Through playing basketball, I believe I learned how to accept failure and work even harder to become better and to not repeat my mistakes.
    I think it’s really important for someone to know how to respond to failure because we all are going to or possibly have already experienced it at some point in our life. Beginning college, we are warned that we might not find ourselves as the top of our class, as we might have been in high school. I myself like to control a lot of things in my life and know how things are going to pan out. It is helpful for me to remind myself that if I work my hardest and put in the most work I can, then that is really all that I myself can control.

  4. I loved your example of relating the difficulties of classes to the difficulties of playing sports. In a way success is very similar in both of these aspects. Knowing how to respond to something negative is just as important as it actually happening. I played golf in high school, and if there is one thing I learned while playing it was one bad shot doesn’t define your entire game. I had to learn this lesson very early. I learned through experience. I once let one shot completely ruin my game. I was so mad with one shot that my next four were just as bad. I’ve since incorporated this lesson into my schooling. Knowing that one grade on an exam, or one grade in a class isn’t going to completely destroy my career plans. One of my all time favorite quotes is “life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it” by Lou Holtz. To answer your questions, a positive perspective has a huge impact on the goals you wish to achieve. No one likes failure, but if it wasn’t for the failures each and every one of us have experienced then we wouldn’t be the people we are today.

  5. I can totally relate to your experience. During my years in high school, I always believed I was good in math. I understood concepts and did well on my exams. Coming to the University of Michigan made me realize that I was not ready at all for the material that was thrown at me in my Pre-Calc class. I didn’t really practice word problems back in high school, and therefore I struggled tremendously during the first exam. It wasn’t the score I was expecting and have ever gotten. I was filled with emotions, but I learned that if I want to do better on the next exam, I need to step up my game and work twice as hard.

    For some reason, I always have to learn from bad experiences because that only makes me reflect on the mistakes that I will not commit again. My mother always told me that if I want something, I must work for it and get it myself because no one will do it for me. Her words, I use as motivation to go to office hours and be more active in my class. It takes courage to get back up, and it hurts at first, but one must never give up and take every experience as a learning one. Hard work pays off at the end, but one must not quit.

  6. From my experience, when everything starts to go south in my life, I just look for someone or something I can hold on to to keep going. Failure has definitely made me feel bad about myself, but it has also made me feel like I have something to prove, which is that I am not taking this C or F that I got on a quiz. I am going to get that A, and I will work for that A. Life is a constant battle of improving yourself, and it does get tiring, but I know life goes on, so if you don’t, then you will get left behind, and that is the worst you can do for yourself at this moment. At least for me, it is that way.

  7. Failure has taught me that it is ok to mess up. We are only human and cannot be too hard on ourselves when mess ups happen. I will say that failure has taught me more than succeeding ever will. When you fail you get back up and try again. You try something new, you push harder, you learn. Without failure I wouldn’t know that I love to dance, or that I’m better at psychology than I am at biology. Failure has helped me discover who I am. With that being said, having a positive perception after failing will allow you to develop your goals and strive to reach them. Remaining positive in the aftermath of failure can lead to great things.

  8. Great point! Positivity can be the key in less than desirable situations to pick yourself back up. It did strike a chord with me when all the people on the Pre-Health Panel one by one said their most important message or common misconception. Across the board the single most common statement was that a C or even multiple poor grades will not be the end of the road academically. I like to remember this specific quote from the latest Batman trilogy (because I am a movie junkie): “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” The discussion immediately made me think of that quote as I have tried to apply that attitude to failure which has done me a world of good. Coming into college, I was thinking I could just guess my way through some things as I have always done and I’d still end up in a good position. Yea that was a mistake, bigtime, but I have learned not be discouraged by how rough a class is and to persevere through the difficulties, make it a learning opportunity to get back up rather than just fall. The discussion reaffirmed this attitude, an attitude which I plan to continue exhibiting through the rest of my life.

  9. Having a positive perspective of things can male or break your goals. You have to want to succeed: you have to want to get the grade. Therefore, I believe having a positive look on like makes everything a lot easier because you develop I scene of confidence in yourself that you may not have had if you look at the negative aspects of your life. Failures in my life have made me stronger and more confident in my ability to succeed. Without some of the failures I have been through, I don not think I would have tried new things if I though I was going to succeed. My failures helped me grow.

  10. I believe that a positive attitude can make all the difference. Failures and set backs are going to occur but it is how you handle those that can determine your future, not the failure itself. Having a positive attitude is the key to resilience and determination.
    When I think about my life thus far I do not think I’ve had any large failures but I know they will come at some point and it is important to remain hopeful.

  11. I think having a positive perspective can help you achieve any goal in life. If you believe you cannot do something, you will not perform as well and may even sell yourself short by quitting. When I ran track in high school I quickly learned how important mentality is. If I told myself that I could not finish a run, then I would perform badly, but the more I kept a positive outlook the better I became. In my accelerated precalculus class, I was constantly doing badly on my tests because I was finally being challenged in a math course. I thought I could just cruise by and go with the flow like I had done for so many years but my mistakes helped me develop the study skills I have today. My failures within my academics have allowed me to be okay with the idea that I am not always the smartest in my class, but the important thing is that I am improving and pushing myself for the better. This is the outlook I continue to bring with me to college.

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