Inside Pitch Magazine, Fall 2016

Ground Rules: Processing Failure

By a former DI Athlete and Navy SEAL

By Jason Kuhn
Player on BenchFailure. Otherwise known as the hardest piece of adversity. Most of us have heard that failure is a part of the process. Great!…but what does that mean? In combat and competition, I have learned that hard things meet heavy adversity by their very nature, otherwise they would be easy and everyone would do it. Therefore, failure exists necessarily in an effort to increase our ability. The experience of failing creates an opportunity to make ourselves better by identifying weakness or fundamental inconsistency.

The process should be a constant evolution of becoming better. Everyone has failed. Everyone will again, or at least you should if you’re after something you’ve never had, so rather than choosing self-pity or frustration, let’s use this inevitable experience of failure to our advantage. When we set our vision high enough, we will meet failure. Therefore, reaching our vision requires more effort than currently feels reasonable to surpass the status quo. This is what they refer to as “stepping out of the comfort zone.”

I like to think of effort as limitless vs. a measure of a zone of comfort. My SEAL Team brother’s life deserves my relentless preparation, not an imaginary step outside of a self-imposed personal zone. Anything less is inconsistent with selflessness commitment to our vision. I understand it’s not life and death for athletes, but like Vince Lombardi said, “...the principles are the same...” It’s not about labeling effort and patting ourselves on the back for trying a little harder for the day – it’s about finding how hard can I actually go for my team. It’s about actually running as hard as I can until I puke and then running faster. It’s about actually fighting through 5.5 half days on a total of 4 hours of sleep for my brother because what we want is worth it. I call it relentless effort, not a comfort zone, because complacency kills and moderation is for cowards. I value it because I’ve felt the reward in relentless effort. It’s not always fun, but it’s always worth it.

Maybe relentless is what some label as “uncomfortable," but for champions, it’s where we live. It’s where we want to be. It’s where we thrive, because it means we’re right where we’re supposed to be. If we want something bad enough to live relentless, it means we’re in a natural pursuit of our God given passion.

Take the risk and get yourself where you're supposed to be. Be thankful for the fight, and you won’t measure yourself in zones. You’ll be in a pure pursuit of your intrinsic passion with a natural relentless aggression. You’ll be in the fire, taking hits and moving forward while smiling at those who are sitting around talking about comfort zones and the latest 3 step process to the next bag of magic beans.

I never ask player to do anything I haven’t, to include effort. I know what it feels like to swim through the ocean at night with blood poured on me. I know what it feels like to enter a door not knowing what’s on the other side. I know what it feels like to be in a situation where you don’t have control of your own life or death...and may I say…It ain’t no zone, it requires a relentless, limitless effort that is absolutely awesome in it’s reward, but you’ve got to have faith son. Forget comfort zones. Being relentless in the face of failure doesn’t make us comfortable or uncomfortable. It makes us happy…because it feeds our soul. It’s how winning is done and It Pays To Be A Winner. Remember, the fun part about getting hit is…you get to hit back, so get out there and get some. All Day. Everyday. For Each Other.

Stonewall Solutions:
The Failure Analyzing Process:

1) Identify a Weakness
Counter: Max out Mental Focus and Physical Effort
You may get beat every single pitch of the game, except the one that wins the game if you give 100% effort and mental focus into every moment.

Example: In college, I came into pitch in relief in the fifth inning and went to the bottom of the eleventh without giving up a hit. I had struck the 4-hole hitter out twice. An error places a runner on first and he steals second. 4-hole hitter comes up for the third time. I have him 1-2 and dead to rights. I get the ball up and he drives it into left center and wins the game. He got one pitch to hit in 15 pitches. By being prepared for each pitch and learning through the previous AB’s rather than frustrated in self-pity, he was focused and ready for his one opportunity given to him that day…and he was the hero. Did he get lucky? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. -Seneca Roman philosopher

2) Identify Fundamental Inconsistency (Fundamental = within control and produces value)
A. Eliminate the inconsistency.
B. Continue to build fundamentally sound habitual reaction both physically and mentally

Physical Example: Pulling our head.
Mental Example: Being selfish in adversity vs. selfless.

3) Forgive yourself. Eyes up and on the next target.

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