This is the definition of failure.
A man in his prime, standing in front of those who would adore him, celebrating failure. In the rain.
To be clear, these folks, and the man, don’t care about failure right now. All they care about is his success. Adam Scott carried his own hopes and dreams, along with those of the Australian nation, to a victory at The Masters, one of golf’s most hallowed accomplishments.
But none of this would have been possible without a monumental collapse of epic proportions that occurred a mere 10 months ago on another grand stage in front of the entire world.
Scott held The Open trophy in his hands with only 4 holes to play. The only problem with that is they don’t let you hold the trophy until the tournament is complete. He had yet to play holes #69-72.
Four bogey’s later he got to watch in agony as Ernie Els claimed the championship for himself. Many of Scott’s colleagues were happy for Ernie, but were sick about what happened for Adam.
Openly recognized as one of the “best golfers never to win a major,” Scott had to live with letting one slip away, never mind having one taken away two years ago at The Masters when Charles Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win.
So how did he respond this past weekend when once again, with 4 holes to play, glory was within his grasps? Two birdies, one on the last hole. When it seemed he might go all day without making a putt longer than 5 feet, he coaxed the 18 footer into the left edge of the hole, forcing the only competitor left on the course who could catch him to do something spectacular. Which he did. Two holes later, Scott ended the playoff with another birdie in the darkness of Augusta’s pines.
Many of you will focus on the place that is Augusta National, home to wealth and arrogance. Others will turn their heads away from a game that is often seen as the bastion of privilege and excess.
I see a lesson for the ages.
All that I follow in social media regarding life and leadership is reflected in this moment. Failure is the key to everything.
Failure is nothing more than a mistake from which we learned nothing.
Mistakes are the greatest teachers. I’ve often stated that life deals far more efficiently in “negative” reinforcement. Great athletes almost unanimously state that they learn much more from their losses and setbacks than from winning.
I firmly believe it is part of what has gone wrong in our culture. We have so stigmatized mistakes that we have lost the ability to embrace them for what they are, and that is the greatest opportunities for learning and growth. Let our children struggle, but be there to help them process the experience. Don’t let them FAIL. Make sure they learn from their mistakes. For me, that’s my most critical responsibility in raising my son.
Develop a human being that is capable of taking all the twists and turns of life and turn them into something special, and maybe, just maybe, he can be like “Adam Scott” in his journey.
Celebrate mistakes, embrace imperfection, for those are the things of life. They make us real, authentic expressions of humanity, and without them we can never become that which we hope to be…