As summer and my birthday approach this time of year I am always reminded of how we are constantly afforded the opportunity for new beginnings. Graduations, summer adventures, old chapters closing and new doors opening. Yes, it’s a romantic view of our time rotating around the sun and no surprise, I’m a sucker for commencement speeches. Abby Wambach recently delivered the commencement speech at Barnard College and it blew me away. Wambach, 37, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer and Women’s World Cup champion and happens to have scored more goals than any man or woman in history. That data point alone piques my interest as a former soccer player (turned soccer mom!)
She offered four rules and how to live by them: Make failure your fuel. Lead from the bench. Champion each other. Demand the ball.
One of my favorite parts of her speech is this: “Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be powered by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.”
In the spirit of disruption and ridiculous ideas from the blog post last week, you have to be willing to fail if you want to see real change. The challenge is what you do with that failure and how to let it fuel the change you desire. Wambach points out that athletes fail all of the time. It’s part of their experience and what makes them better. Failing helps you understand your will to win, and it also teaches you HOW to win.
Abby’s perspective on championing each other is also important. How we hold one another up, connect with others and find common ground is where the action is. “Joy. Success. Power,” Wambach said. “These are not pies where a bigger slice for me means a smaller slice for you. These are infinite. In any revolution, the way to make something true starts with believing it is. Let’s claim infinite joy, success and power — together.”