• Dr. Thom

Thriving in Decision Season: Failure is a Redirect


Photo by Davide Baraldi on Unsplash

My NBA career is probably over. Something about not being able to consistently jump over a deck of cards, or dribble three times in a row.


But, thanks to scrolling through Instagram, I learned that apparently I just need to want it A LOT. That was clearly where I was off in my approach.


Our culture teaches us that any door will open to us if we just knock loud enough. And while it is true that what we often underestimate what is possible in our lives and tend to lower our sights on goals we could have achieved had we only fully committed to the work, let’s not mistake that for the extreme: ANYTHING is possible.


Sometimes, we can find ourselves banging on doors that do not open. What then? Was it our fault for not wanting it enough?


The path to our true north is informed by first determining where we don’t want to go. Recognizing and honing our true talents is also an acceptance of talents we either don’t have OR choose not to value. Excellence comes from hard work and focus. Focus comes at a cost, and is the result of a choice. We cannot be omnicompetent. That’s not a thing.


The real good news is that our universe has a built in feature for informing our choices on how to focus. It’s called failure.


Many people think of the failure as a final product. Like we’re flipping over a card and seeing what prize our hard work has won us at the carnival.


Truth is, failure is a redirect. Something was off in our thinking or assumptions that needed correction before we achieved our goal. Failure is vital feedback from the universe to adjust our choices, our assumptions, and possibly our goals so that we can move closer to our true north. That is, if we have the wisdom to do so.




This time of year is full of such feedback as students learn of the outcomes of all of their hard work during the application phase of their college search. Some will hear yes’s and some will hear no’s from colleges.


We sometimes hear people describe these admission decisions as the student hearing “good news” for an admit, or “bad news” for a deny of waitlist. But in reality, it’s all good news, because even a deny redirects a student to where they are supposed to be, which is always good news.


Not working with us yet? Feeling stressed by the college search process? Let's chat.


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