Don't Waste a Failure

The University of Alabama has won the national championship in NCAA football four times in the last eight years under the leadership of coach Nick Saban.  Many people see Saban as the best coach in football, possibly ever.  They will be ranked #1 when they play the FSU Seminoles to open this year’s college season.

But they lost last year.  Once.  On the last second of the last game.

They were 14-0 going into the championship game against Clemson in January.  In the final game of the previous season, they also had faced Clemson and beat them for the championship.  They led the entire game this year, but Clemson came back and scored on the last play to win the game, 35-31.


Losing is painful, but losing at the 11th hour (in games and in “real” life) can be a killer.  I think it is natural to sulk over a loss or to push back and blame others or your situation (or God, if you are so inclined).  When asked yesterday about the loss, Saban would have been fully justified in saying: “We have been the best team in football over the last decade.  We were the best team in 2016, and we were the best team last year except for one second”.  Or, he could have said: “We beat Clemson the last time we played them.  We lost to them in January, but we would like nothing better than to have another chance to play them for the championship this year.” 

Both statements would be true, but he had a better answer.  Saban said: “We don’t want to waste a failure.”

He is saying, as hard as they worked last year, and for all of the pain they felt when they came up short, they are using their loss as an opportunity to get better.

The Atlanta Falcons had a similar outcome last year – getting to the final game and leading only to lose on the last play.  The motivational phrase they are using this year is “Embrace the Suck.”

I am a very competitive person, and in my job, I get lots of opportunities to embrace failure, because in recruiting there is nothing (but pain) for coming in second place.  Most of the time, I think we can learn lessons from our failures with the goal of not repeating them.  Other times, we have to accept there are things out of our control that may cause a deal to break, and the best remedy to a loss is to work a little harder and put another deal together that turns into a win.

We are having the best year in our six year history as a company with many wins, but we want more.  Let me know how we can help you.