Prompt: The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
My eyes were on the prize. They always are, because the prize is my main motivator for success. When confronted with difficult decisions, I ask myself two questions: Do I shoot and make the goal? Or will the ball bounce off the rim and come back to hit me in the face? In simpler words, do I succeed or do I fail? Generally, I don’t consider myself that much of a failure, because my motivation enables me to do the very best I can in any circumstance. Unfortunately during one basketball game, an inevitable fate awaited me: a failure that left me most disabled. Until it didn’t. And it all started with a little push.
Intertwined with each other, my hands were behind my back and, cut the day before, my hair fell perfectly along my face. I stood up straight, showing no worry, and after the referee’s blow of the whistle, I bowed and said: “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu”. Have a good game. After finding my position, the referee launched the basketball in the air, and the game began. After a missed shot, I jumped for the rebound while an opposing team player did the same, marking the onset of my failure. You could imagine the scene; it’s like the ones you see in sport movies. A slow-motion shot of two players colliding mid-air with their faces portraying the distinct expressions of determination and contempt for one another. I was determined alright, but so was my opponent; he shoved me in the air with a force so brutal, that it prevented me from regaining balance. Consequently, my feet met the ground imperfectly, snapping to the side and causing an immense pain in my ankle. And that’s the story of how I failed. Sort of.. Spraining an ankle probably isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s not something anyone wants to endure, let alone put on a college application. So why was that push such a crucial experience for me?
I know there are a lot of people out there with the same passion for basketball, but basketball doesn’t just make me feel good, physically and emotionally; it challenges me to such an extent that with every athletic achievement, I become a better person and a better player. However, my injury meant that my butt got called back to warm the benches, and no one achieves real success from sitting on their butt all day. Devastated, I imagined the incident as an attempt to make a goal that ultimately ended up with the ball bouncing off the rim and hitting me in the face instead - I failed. Distressed with the cold feeling of the benches and the ice pack on my ankle, I realized that the swollen foot displayed in front of me presented opportunity and potential to become the strongest foot the school has ever seen. All it came down to now was a little push for the mind.
The bench provided me a platform for introspection during which I decided that my body could stand the crutches, but my mind could not stand the benches, and so I became determined to win my strength back by pushing myself to the top - and not let anyone push me down again. That shove altered my mentality, finding importance not in the prize, but in the progress, and understanding that progress brings its own rewards. Minor setbacks set the stage for major comebacks, and my injury was just a minor setback. After hard work and persistence, I was again able to walk (or better to say run) across the basketball court with the strongest foot and the strongest mind I’ve ever had. And all it took was a little push.