I was inspired to write this blog after reading a tweet from a fellow cyclist/activist, Matt McClellan www.tourdepizza.com, simply stating, “Failure is NOT an option”. I jokingly retweeted with, “What’s failure?”, as if I had never heard of the word before. Then I started to think, what does it really mean to fail? I, along with a majority of people, have never looked up the word “failure” in a dictionary. I avoid using this family of vocabulary, which includes, “can’t” and ”try”, but that’s another blog. When I typed this word in the title of this blog, I made a face like I had noticed a foul odor, the one when you crinkle your nose and you squint your eyes, because it didn’t look like it was spelled correctly. I hit spell check after writing one word, “failure”, with WordPress responding, “No characters to check”. I then went to the information highway, the internet. I came across this definition;
n. 1. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends: the failure of an experiment.
2. One that fails: a failure at one’s career.
[Alteration of failer, default, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French faillir, to fail; see fail.]
(Sidenote: It is ironic that it originates from a French word. Just kidding!)
The first definition hit home with me and it put the word into perspective. “… not achieving the desired end or ends”. But what if you do desire the end or ends? Or you desire the end or ends so badly, that you are willing to spend the entirety of your lifetime to reach the desired end or ends? Is it failing if you have to attempt multiple times, the end or ends still desirable, to reach your goal? Another well-known phrase came to mind, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again”. There is a reason why it wasn’t written, “If at first you fail, try again”, because if you’re trying again, the end is still very desireable to you.
A good friend, whom works at a local gym, told me the other day, “I normally would be worried about someone riding their bike around the nation by themselves. But given your past experiences, and the conviction I see in yours eyes when you talk about it (childhood obesity), convinces me that not only are you going to finish this ride, but succeed in making a difference” – Kyle Cain. My local bike shop sponsor, Kinetic Cycles, was also skeptical of my capabilities, which was very warranted. At first glance, I appear to be an ex-athlete who woke up one day and said, “I think I want to ride a bike 11,000 miles today”. After an in-depth conversation, they notated my conviction, as I did theirs, and partnered with Across America for Childhood Obesity in the fight against this epidemic.
Make no mistake, the end of changing the way our youth lead their lives and creating opportunities for physical activity is extremely desireable, indescribable by words. Remember back in high school, when your class was acting badly throughout class, and after the bell rings your teacher holds you in your seats as punishment? And the most common statement made by your teacher was, “I’ll wait here all day for you to quiet down, I don’t have anywhere to go”. Well, I am the teacher right now, and the student is childhood obesity. I’m not going to lie, I don’t have any obligations in the near future. I am 24 years old, I don’t have a mortgage, I have five more payments on my car note, I haven’t been in a relationship for four years, and don’t have any children. And whether it takes me the estimated ten months, or ten years, to complete Across America for Childhood Obesity’s first campaign, it will get done, I will succeed, and together with organizations across our nation, we will make a difference.
Matt McClellan was right, failure is NOT an option, it is a CHOICE. A conscious decision when the end becomes undesirable for you. I’ll wait here all day for childhood obesity to quiet down, I don’t have anywhere to be.