You may know Brett Favre as the three time MVP, Super Bowl winning retired quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. You may also know Kobe Bryant as Black Mamba, 5 times NBA Champion, and legendary guard of the Los Angeles Lakers. Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls is globally recognized as the G.O.A.T – Greatest of All Time (erroneous by the way since that honor belongs to Earvin Magic Johnson, but I digress) has Six Championship Rings. What may not immediately come to mind when you think of these sports icons is how much failure they endured.
Brett Favre still leads the NFL in most interceptions thrown with 336. Ironically, when he retired he also held the record for most touchdowns thrown with 508. If you know anything about Kobe Bryant you know that he liked loved to shoot. Let’s face it. He was a ball hog. Therefore, it may not be as surprising to know that he leads the NBA with 14,481 missed shots – the most in history. Jordan says, “…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.” However, what we probably remember about Jordan is that winning jumper he made in the NBA Playoffs and then leaps in the air with three fist pumps.
What gets overlooked is the amount of resilience or grit that it takes to fail repeatedly yet continue in spite of those failures. In her book, Grit: the power of passion and perseverance, Angela Duckworth writes:
high but not the highest intelligence, combined with the greatest degree of
persistence, will achieve greater eminence than the highest degree of intelligence
with somewhat less persistence. (78)
Brett, Kobe, and Michael were all knowledgeable about their sports, but it was their persistence after failure that made them legends. Embrace your failures. Soldier on cause like Brett you could fail more than anyone else, but you can simultaneously be the most successful in the same field. Kobe and Jordan are beloved for their grit and the unshakeable belief in their skills and talent. Make someone a believer in you with your resilience and grit.