This is my motto for the time being. I think I’m going to start tweeting stories and videos of epic failure with the hash tag #failtrying and see if I can make it go viral.
The Fail Trying movement will be a celebration the human spirit. I will celebrate people who strive for greatness and miss but who deserve praise simply for the attempt.
Situated just east of the Rocky Mountains, less than one hour’s drive from some of the best alpine skiing in the world, Calgary is ideally situated to host a winter Olympics. By all accounts the 1988 games were one of the most successful winter Olympics ever and the first to actually turn a profit.
I, like just about every other red blooded Canadian, spent two weeks that February glued to my television. The stories of athletic triumph, “the joy of victory and the agony of defeat” that came out of Calgary that winter are similar to those we hear every four years from every Olympic Games. What figure skating fan could forget the “battle of the Brians” when American Brian Boitano defeated home town favourite Canadian Brian Orser for gold in one of the greatest show-downs ever recorded on ice? Or who can forget Switzerland’s Primin Zurbriggen and Peter Muller finishing, one two in the men’s downhill?
Calgary’s winter Olympics are perhaps best remembered for two stories of spectacular failure. Today, almost thirty years later when most people think about the 1988 Winter Olympics they don’t remember the winners, they remember one of these two failures.
Because both of these “failures” have been dramatized into major motion pictures…
“Cool Runnings”, released in 1993 tells the story of the Jamaican Bobsledding team that set out to compete against the best in the world despite never having seen snow. They failed. They didn’t even post an official time because they crashed in their qualifying run.
“Eddie the Eagle”, released in 2016 is the biopic based on the life of Michael “Eddie” Edwards. Edwards was the first person to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping since 1929. He didn’t exactly fail. He just finished dead last on both the 70 and 90 metre hills.
I saw both of these events unfold live, in real life. The thing that struck me about them then and continues to have an impact on me today is the idea that you can be victorious in failure, even spectacular failure. It isn’t enough that no one expected four guys from Jamaica to win a bobsled race. It isn’t enough that no one expected a British skier who had previous failed to qualify for the 1984 games in a different sport to suddenly become a world class ski jumper. What made them famous and transcended the games they were a part of is the fact that they failed while trying.
Minneapolis, Minnesota isn’t exactly a hotbed of culinary innovation. But on Cedar Ave, just off I94 you will find Tam Tam’s African Restaurant, owned and operated by a Ugandan immigrant to the United States named Stephen Kaggwa. Tam Tam’s is not a chain and it’s not world famous by any stretch, it’s a small privately owned business just like millions of others all over the world. Kaggwa the restaurant owner makes a nice living from his simple and unremarkable business but Kaggwa the man, is famous for coining a business maxim that has been quoted thousands of times in board rooms and loading docks from New York City to Hicksville USA.
“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try” – Stephen Kaggwa
Eddie the Eagle failed to qualify for the 1984 Olympics. The story could have ended there but it didn’t. He moved to Lake Placid, New York and took up ski jumping. While in New York he ran out of money and moved to Finland to take job as an orderly in a mental institution. The story could have ended there too, but it didn’t. He continued to train and compete in Finland and although still terrible by most everyone’s standards he became the number one ranked British ski jumper, enough to qualify for the Olympics.
In terms of international competition Michael “Eddie” Edwards is a failure. He never won a thing. But we love him, like we love the Jamaican bobsled team, because he tried.
Stephen Kaggwa is not a failure. He’s not a world famous restaurant owner either but he works hard and he is still trying.
Failure only happens when you stop trying. So fail trying. Get up and try again.
You don’t lose the game until the whistle blows, the last out is recorded or your time expires. Get up and try again.
Here’s a video of some spectacular failures that will warm your heart and make you say, even the pros fail sometimes but they keep trying..