A university football team was practising running. One player had the position of lineman. This large player was in a tackle position and considered the fastest lineman in the team. One day, he walked up to his coach and asked if he could run sprints with the fastest running backs. The coach gave him permission.
The lineman went out daily to run, but each day he came in last. Day after day, he continued to run with the fastest backs, even though each day he lost. The coach asked himself, “Why would this football player want to play with the best runners and continually come in last when he could run with the linemen and be the fastest?”
The coach asked the lineman, “Wouldn’t you prefer to be a winner and run with the other lineman, rather than being a loser running with the backs?”
The young man said, “I’m not here to outrun the linemen. I already know I can do that. I’m here to learn how to run faster, and if you have noticed, Sir, I lose to the backs by a little less each day!”
The football player learnt that he would not improve by living on past glories. He knew he could only improve by challenging himself. He was after improvement, not accolades and praise. If we looked at only our successes, we might become complacent and think we have reached the pinnacle of glory. Then, we would not change; we would be satisfied with what we are and take longer to reach our goal.
The football player could see what the other runners were doing and could work on developing his ability. The losses showed him what he needed to do better the next time. And each day he lost by a little less. When we look at our failures, we know what we have to do better each day. Then, by making an effort, we will have fewer failures than on the previous day. Over time, we would ultimately reach a stage in which we have improved and reach zero failure.