In the week leading up to the Superbowl, Pete Carroll was asked what had gotten him there—what had gotten him to that point. Well, many people assumed that it was his ability to evaluate talent, and many would say also that it was his motivational ability. Still, others would say that it was because he was a meticulous planner. However, Coach Carroll did not see it that way. The real reason that brought him to the Superbowl? He got fired. Getting fired is what caused him to get his butt into gear. It's what caused him to change. It was the catalyst that led a good coach to reach the pinnacle of a coaching career: winning the Superbowl.

How many people are afraid of failure? How many coaches fail as a head coach and never try to become a head coach again? They have decided that they weren't cut out for it, and they relegate the rest of their careers to being a position coach or coordinator. How many people have you seen get fired from one job and completely change professions? They have decided that they were a failure and can never again have a career in that field. Instead, they have to do something completely different. Yet, they often get fired from their new jobs as well, and they end up moving from profession to profession, making the same mistake over and over again. These folks, however, do not look at these experiences as learning opportunities or as small detours. No, they are looked upon as roads closed, destinations unobtainable, and "go find somewhere else to go" moments.

However, failure is the greatest teacher if you will listen to it. It will show you what not to do so that when you make a second attempt, you will have a greater likelihood of being successful. I look back on my career and sometimes shake my head as I think about all of the stupid things I have done. Sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me wonder if I ate paint chips as a child.

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Every mistake that could be made in a coaching career I'm pretty sure I did. I didn't keep records at one point in time, and I didn't plan out weight training or conditioning sessions. I also didn't have a set discipline policy or set rules. I even tried to fit in with the athletes...and I said the wrong thing to the wrong person more times than I can count. So it's safe to say that I've done many, many things wrong. However, I learned long ago that there is no such thing as failure unless you allow it to be failure.

A friend of mine once said that "you will make it much farther in life if you realize that there is no such thing as failure; there is only paying tuition. For everything that you learn there is a price, and some prices are much higher than others, but tuition is the price of education."

What a great way to think of it. Fortunately he gave me that advice, and unfortunately, I've paid a butt load of tuition. I've learned what to do in nearly every situation by paying tuition—from the order of silverware one is supposed to use at fancy dinners to knowing when to say something and when to keep my mouth shut in meetings. I've learned many things in many different ways, and I've paid enough tuition for 10 PhDs. At one time, I would get extremely depressed if I failed. I felt like the lowest form of being in the universe and not worthy of anyone’s time. However, with that one small twist to my thinking, I found that my entire outlook had changed. I would no longer spiral down into depression from a failure. Instead, I used it to grow. I used it to learn what to do and what not to do. I used it to explore different training philosophies, like the concurrent method and velocity-based training, to change my approach to coaching. I also used it to send me down the path of actually getting the PhD so that I could understand everything that was going on in the training of my athletes and how to truly evaluate the various training methods.

I'm not sure what Pete Carroll did differently when he returned to coaching each time...I have no idea at all. What I do know is that he corrected what it was that got him fired in his previous job. He paid tuition for the lessons he learned, and he moved on to be more successful. He took the negative incident, changed the lens of how he looked at it, and he used that as the springboard to the Superbowl. It's tough to change your way of thinking. It's tough to move on and see it as a positive, as a catalyst of change. But you know what you get when you do that? You get Strong(er) of mind.