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Why does victory feel so good?

Is it the feeling of accomplishment?

Is it the feeling of reward from the culmination of a lot of hard work?

It’s all this...and more.

The reason victory and success feels so good is a result of the pain and agony that was endured along the way.

After all, we can’t fully appreciate sunshine without knowing what darkness feels like. We don’t fully come to know what love and companionship feel like, until we know what loneliness feels like.

In this article, we’re going to drill deep into failure and adversity. I’m going to lay out a narrative that will help you to appreciate it. As strange as this might sound, I’m going to show you how failure and adversity can be embraced and celebrated in life. Specifically, how adversity can be your friend!

In his book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Success”, leadership author John C. Maxwell claims that failure and adversity are key ingredients to growth and success. In fact, he authored another book that is entirely about failure. I love the title, “Sometimes you Win--Sometimes you Learn”. It’s a play on an old saying, sometimes you win--sometimes you lose. However, if we adopt the proper attitude regarding failure, we never really lose. Learning from adversity is the only way to turn failure into a positive. Think of it this way, when we lose but also learn during the process, our attitude should be that we lost the battle, but we’re stronger and more equipped to win the war!

This sounds great but it’s hardly easy. It takes a specific skill set to be able to do that, one that needs to be taught to developing athletes. Here are the Four KEY ingredients to knowing how to grow from failure or adversity.

Own It – Admit your role in the failure.

Don’t become a victim by blaming others. First, failure can only help you grow, if you own your role in the process. Don’t blame others for your circumstances, instead try to determine how you contributed to the failure. Since football is a team sport, it makes it easy to scapegoat others for failure that you played a part in creating. Accordingly, it is more effective to encourage others, rather than blaming them. Further, displaying this type of attitude will help others to adopt the same outlook. Be a leader and offer to help others improve so they can get better. This might involve putting in extra time, for example, working after practice with another position group to improve timing or confidence. Conversely, it could be something as simple as encouraging someone, which in turn allows them to become more confident in their abilities. Love up your teammates.

If you blame others, then you’re a victim. In sports we call it being a finger pointer. Just understand that no growth occurs when you are a finger pointer. When you blame others, all you’ll get in the future is more of the same.

Don’t be afraid of failure or adversity – Embrace it!

When I consult with athletes after they encounter failure or adversity, I encourage them to embrace it by welcoming failure into their life. Put your arms around it and let it be your friend. This may sound counter intuitive, but embracing failure is so important if growth is to take place, which should be your primary goal as a developing athlete.

By embracing failure, you can free yourself from the fear of failure, which allows athletes to play uninhibited. You will play faster, more freely and with a full heart. Fear of failure clutters the mind. While competing, clear your mind of any possible failure and your game will improve.

Evaluate Failure and Adversity

There is an old saying that ‘experience is the mother of learning.’ In his book, “Sometimes you Win--Sometimes you Learn”, Maxwell takes exception to old saying. He states that “evaluated experience” is the how we learn. After failure, take time to reflect and evaluate the experience. Football is a very emotional game, which is why it is important take time to let emotions subside before evaluating the experience. This way you’ll be able to clearly, honestly and authentically determine what occurred. You’ll be able to clearly identify your role in the failure and own it.

A wise man once said, ‘no one ever made a worse decision by taking a little extra time to think about it.’ Once you’ve determined your role in the failure, then you can own it, which allows you to decide the best course of action to fix it. It’s important to understand that in order to grow, then you need to change. In other words, you can change without growing but you can’t grow without changing.

Learn from others

We’ve discussed how to learn from personal failures. However, it’s also important to learn from the failures of others. If you want to be a great athlete, then you don’t have time to make all of the mistakes yourself. You can save yourself the time and trouble by learning from the mistakes of other people. I call this being a student of the game.

If you can accept these concepts, then you’re going to have the proper attitude toward adversity. I promise you that if you integrate these ideas into your life, then you will have more success in football, in life and you will achieve success faster. Your growth will be accelerated. Now put down this article, get out there and let the failure begin!!

This article appeared in USA Football 10/19/2016

Eric Smith is a former NCAA Division 1 Quarterback and High School Football Coach. He is the owner and director of Winning Edge Skills where he coaches and mentors aspiring quarterbacks and hosts Quarterback / Receiver & Offensive Line Skill Development Camps throughout Northern CA, Nevada and Oregon. Eric is also a certified Leadership Speaker, Trainer and Coach for the John Maxwell Leadership Team. You can also visit the complete ONLINE quarterback training academy at . To connect with Coach Smith visit or email him at follow on Twitter at @winningedgeqbr or Facebook at

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