Blog #2 Response – Failure in Leadership – By Dylan Rutledge

Failure only has a negative implication if an individual does not learn from their mistake. Failure in many ways creates or enforces positive characteristics that will help us throughout our lives. A specific experience I have personally experienced is failing at the leader role. Growing up I was always in as many different sports as possible. From soccer, football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, track, and weightlifting, I have always been involved in athletics. My junior year of high school, I started on defense, offense, and was our kick/punt returner. Returning kicks was easily one of my favorite things in the sport. Every game I had numerous opportunities to catch the football from a long kick and return it as far as I could. It was honestly a really cool experience to have 21 people in front of you while 10 others are trying to escort me to the end zone untouched, whereas the remaining 11 were attempting to do the exact opposite. We were in the state quarterfinals, and we were down by seven points. We had approximately 4 minutes of gameplay remaining, and were receiving the ball. The audience was well over 5,000 people I could hardly hear anything from all the screams. There was nothing more I wanted to do more for my team than to return this kick well in order to give us our dreams of winning a high school state football championship. The ball was kicked and the sky was black, yet the stadium lights so bright it feels as its day. I found the ball, tracking it down like I had done hundreds of times throughout my career. I took a hard first three steps to catch the ball in stride at a full sprint to be as efficient as possible. However, as the ball tumbled down from the sky, it bounced off the chest piece of my shoulder pads, and shot straight horizontally towards the sideline. I ran as fast as I could to keep the ball for our team as I had fumbled. There was nothing I could do but to dive on the ball to remain possession around our own 10 yard line. I had never felt worse in my life during this moment. A home crowd of thousands were all virtually silent. I could hear the murmurs and gasps in the crowd as I embarrassingly ran back to the offensive huddle. I was one of our team’s leaders, one of our best players, and I failed when my team needed me most. I will never forget the emptiness I felt when the ball was skipping towards the sideline from my mental error. However, we ended up winning this game in overtime, so it was awesome to know that my team had my back, and that regardless of my mistake, they were going to do anything in their power to allow our team to win.

I learned a tremendous amount from me failing, and still being able to rally back and persevere to accomplish a goal, in this case, to win. It vividly exemplified that team sports come down to more than a single play. The easy thing for my team and I to do when that happened would have been to give up. Me, someone my team trusted in a high tension situation failed miserably when they needed me most. My team member’s did not say one negative thing to me when this happened. They were so encouraging with statements such as, “We need you Dyl” or “We’re going to win this.” As distraught as I was, I was going to do whatever possible to help my team. Had my team member’s pointed fingers or been discouraged from my fumble, I highly doubt we would have ever persevered through that game. The positivity and encouragement embedded in our group was enough to let us drive the ball 90 yards and end up winning in overtime. I learned from this failure that failure is not permanent. Mistakes are going to happen in life, and our reaction is the most important aspect of failure. Also, I learned that leaders need love. Although this may sound obvious, leaders are humans as well. I can’t express enough through my example how different things would have been had my team made negative remarks, or not trust me with the ball after that incident. Leaders are typically looked up to and are asked for advice when things aren’t going right. A leader needs support as well sometimes, and positivity and support are vital in learning from the mistakes or failures we endure throughout our life.

Stay tuned for the next 00Change Blog prompt…


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