He moved to the US, hired new coaches, started a brand new workout routine — actually he started doing pretty much everything different.
And, 4 years later, he won the gold.
And those are the stories I love — how someone turns failure into success. When you hear those stories, you applaud how the person didn’t allow failure to deter them, that they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and came back bigger and better.
Those are the stories that are easy to love.
But what happens if you fail, try again, and still fail?
Case in point — beloved Wisconsin Badgers. In 2014, the basketball team made it to the Final 4, lost to Kentucky with a freak 3-point basket in the final seconds of the game and went home.
Everyone on that team who was eligible to come back the following year did come back.
They set some lofty goals — win the Big 10 title, make it back to the Final 4 and this time win the national championship.
And they came really close, oh-so-heartbreaking close, to having it all.
But, instead, this is what happened: Yes, they did win the Big 10 Title, they earned a #1 seed in the tournament (first time Wisconsin ever did that), they beat Arizona for the second time (who had revenge on their mind and was heartbreaking to watch Arizona lose), they beat Kentucky the “unbeatable” team who was 2 games away from an undefeated season and who all the “experts” were ready to hand over the crown before the tournament even started.
And they lost to Duke in the final minutes of the national championship game.
As disappointing as this was — in a way maybe this is a better story for my column today. After all, there are times where you fail…and then you fail again. You get yourself back up, dust yourself off, and you still fail.
Does that mean it wasn’t worth it to pick yourself back up and try again?
Look at the Badgers. Yes, they didn’t win the final prize. But look at what they DID accomplish — they took down the mighty Kentucky who no one thought could be taken down. Not to mention their star player won every single major basketball award, including basketball’s version of the Heisman (which hasn’t happened in years and certainly never happened to a Wisconsin player).
The media adored them. They were known for these silly, goofball press conferences where they told jokes and had all these silly gaffes (one of the players was caught on a hot microphone saying that one of the stenographers was beautiful and was trending all over the place).
No other college team had ever been that relaxed in their media interviews and that lethal on the court.
They didn’t accomplish all their goals, but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision to come back and try again.
And, it also doesn’t mean the right decision isn’t to pick yourself back up a second time and try again — even if it means you might fail a third time or a fourth time or a tenth time.
And it doesn’t mean there aren’t some wins along the way you wouldn’t have gotten if you hadn’t picked yourself back up and tried again. And maybe, just maybe, those smaller wins will be what really matters at the end of the day.
(Okay, who am I kidding? Yes, it sucks Wisconsin doesn’t have that national championship win. Argh!!!)