We typically don’t celebrate our failures in life. I doubt your parents took you to Chuck E. Cheese after getting straight F’s on your grade school report card. You probably didn’t win an award for finishing dead last in a sporting event. We frown on failure and think it’s automatically a bad thing. I’m here to tell you that true success isn’t possible without failure.
I’ve played guitar for over half of my life. In order to master a new song, it often involves failing numerous times and producing caveman sounds like “grrrrr” and “ahhhh” while trying to get it down. You could play an easy song like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” every day in fear of failure, but where would that get you? I might fail to play “Eruption” by Eddie Van Halen or “Dittohead” by Slayer hundreds of times. However, if I’m able to eventually conquer it, failure actually helped me grow.
The same holds true in sports radio. Hosts often stick to what they do best without experimenting and pushing their own boundaries. A host that tends to be more of a serious thinker still needs to create funny bits and views that are light. If a host is naturally funny, it’s important to look for ways to create thought-provoking topics as well.
It’s easy to get comfortable and simply stick with what works. This is actually a mistake. The main reason hosts shy away from trying new things is due to a fear-based mentality. “What if this doesn’t work?” Fear of failure. “What if this bit falls flat?” Fear of failure. “Maybe I shouldn’t do it.” Awww, looks like wittle sports talk host has a fear of failure.
Don’t think of failure as an enemy — failure is actually an ally. Avoiding risk is worse than attempting to achieve new things that are difficult. Yeah, you might fail along the way, but you’ll eventually succeed more consistently and grow if you keep at it.
Look at McDonald’s. They could trot out the same menu from now until the end of time and still be successful, yet that’s not how they roll. McDonald’s stopped serving Orange Hi-C recently, which is close to a crime against humanity. Orange Hi-C ranks among bacon and green Kool-Aid as some of the best things on earth. Unfortunately though, luscious Orange Hi-C is being replaced with a new hack soda called Sprite Tropic Berry.
Psh, Sprite Tropic Berry.
Although I think this move is awful, I applaud McDonald’s for shaking things up and trying to improve. Their mentality is solid and they’re showing a willingness to take chances and try new things. The Orange Hi-C experiment might not work — I’m hoping it’s a colossal failure — but their next five ideas might be outstanding.
I filled in for Steve Gorman Sports a couple of months ago on FOX Sports Radio. Steve was out and I was filling in alongside his cousin, Jeffrey Gorman. There was a story about Lou Holtz signing a helmet with the inscription “1988 National Champs, screwed in 89, 90 & 93.” We mentioned facts and serious stuff like Notre Dame finishing (9-3) in 1990. Jeffrey then shifted the topic in a different direction by dusting off his impression of Lou Holtz while the two of us had a short conversation.
When the bit was over, Jeffrey said something like, “Ehh, so that wasn’t great.” He was right, but just like McDonald’s is willing to try new things, being unafraid will lead to some great radio along the way. I prefer hosts that take chances. You can’t solely dwell on their failures while overlooking their successes and growth. Aaron Judge strikes out a lot. That’s not the only thing he does though. The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year also hits a lot of home runs.
Swinging for the fences will produce success and failure. Not swinging at all will only produce failure.
I talked to a trainer at the gym once. He said that if I wanted to build muscle, I needed to do sets until failure — until I couldn’t do another rep and had to rest for awhile before doing more. He said that if I didn’t, I might as well go in the bathroom and [highly unsuitable gym guy comment for this particular column]. You might be able to guess what he said, but the point is that your muscles can’t grow without being broken down. Without lifting to failure, your muscles will only grow marginally.
Tell me this doesn’t apply to sports radio and I’ll tell you that you’re wrong. Without failure, you will never meet your full potential. Don’t avoid trying new things because you’re afraid it’ll flop. Be bold and understand that straying outside of your comfort zone will make you stronger. Otherwise, your sports talk abilities will peak like the guitarist who only knows how to play “Twinkle, Twinkle.”
Failure signals growth. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t succeeding.