This fine autumn day before Michigan's pivotal Under the Lights game with Penn State, I thought I'd share a Michigan Radio story I listened to this morning that contains lessons for all of us. It's a feature they call Failure:Lab. Individuals from all walks of life stand before an audience and describe the failures they've faced in their lives. It teaches the listener and can be a much-needed catharsis for the storyteller.
The one that touched me this morning was by former Michigan guard Jimmy King, one of the Fab 5 basketball phenoms who helped lead the Wolverines to the NCAA tournament finals in 1992 and 1993. Any Michigan fan at the time will remember those games as both the best of times and the worst of times, all coiled tightly within a couple hours of exciting basketball.
As the world now knows, the Fab 5 is a fine example of both exhilarating success and heartbreaking team and personal failures. Jimmy King speaks frankly about this in the video. Even more importantly, he looks inside himself to see what his true failure has been. The confession comes near the end of the story, but is worth the wait. It's a confession that many of us could make and it's something we could all do something about if we were cognizant of it eating away at our own success.
It comes down to the failure of not expecting much. Of becoming so accustomed to having success snatched from you at the moment it seems within your grasp, that you stop believing in yourself. He imagines all he could have done or been if he had kindled that belief. We all sometimes stumble or hold back when a little belief and self confidence could propel us even further.
King's realizations seem timely as others in the Michigan athletic family struggle with meeting expectations, experiencing failure, and I'm sure in some cases, harboring much self-doubt. I hope that the football players of Team 135 do keep believing in themselves and burst past any ceiling that the failure to meet expectations has built in their minds. With the moving support of the Michigan football player alumni this weekend and what I expect to be a Big House filled with fans rallying in team (if not administrative) support, maybe all of us will begin to believe again Saturday night.
You can listen to King's story (and find other interesting stories about failure) here: Michigan Radio's Failure:Lab with Jimmy King
(from the Michigan Radio Stateside Staff - Failure:Lab October 6, 2014)