Fail more to win: lessons from the gold medal victory of Hidilyn Diaz

The title sounds crazy, right?

From childhood, almost of us have been programmed to avoid failure. Parents scold us for coming home with scratches and dirty clothes. These do not conform to how kids rules of behavior. In school, we study hard to earn passing grades at the least. Notching honors are rewards for the intelligent and studious. Everything we are taught is aimed at making each of us obey and follow the conventions. In college, we are taught the knowledge and skills that would make us fit into the production-line workforce. Not to meet those standards is viewed as failure.

Naturally, most people grow into adulthood with that fear of failure deeply etched in their minds. As a result, we develop many phobias — fear of public speaking, fear of messing up the production line at work, fear of trying new ideas and ways of doing anything. Failure is met with scorn, ridicule and rejection. It could get us fired.

What many people don’t realize is that this fear is what is stopping them from realizing their potential. It is keeping them poor, consigned to trod on the path of ordinary workers. No matter how long and how hard they work, they simply can’t achieve success in their endeavors. Frustration envelops them. Why can’t they succeed? Why is failure a constant in their lives?

The simple answer is that their fear of failure is what brings them their fate. Day in and day out, they perform their routines at the job place with regularity, often to the point of boredom. Success will always be elusive for as long as people don’t try what they are afraid of — public speaking, writing, tweaking with their job processes in search of a better way to do things, etc. By the time they reach retirement age, they realize they’ve not done anything worthwhile with their lives.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Weightlifting – Women’s 55kg – Group A – Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines celebrates after a lift. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

The recent gold medal victory of Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz provides a good illustration of how she overcame a long line of failures behind her to achieve her biggest dream.

Diaz had trained hard for the 2020 Olympics after winning a silver medal in the Rio Olympics. She knew she could win the gold. But then the Covid 19 struck, and all her plans seemed to evaporate. Stranded in Malaysia, she fought uncertainty and fear that all her efforts would amount to nothing. She had to cope with loneliness and depression.

Throughout her life, Diaz had encountered numerous stumbles and falls. She endured the humiliation of defeat. Somehow, her strong will and determination kept her on. Every failure was just a stepping stone to victory. She wasn’t afraid to fail. The easy thing to do when the pandemic hit was to give it all up and try to go home. Her Olympic gold medal dream was ready to fade with the cancellation of the games last year.

Diaz swept aside all her fears and focused on her training. At the back of her mind, the Olympics might just re-emerge from the darkness, and her dream can move closer to reality. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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