Learning from Failure

Mike Kryzewski or Coach K is the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history, a graduate of West Point and arguably one of the smartest people in sports. Why was he so successful? He believes in failure. His philosophy was forged at West Point where you go to learn to fail in the classroom so you don’t fail on the battlefield. A lesson he never forgot.

In his first 3 seasons at Duke, his record was 38-47. Sitting in Denny’s with reporter John Feinstein, after losing a game by over 40 points someone handed him a water glass and said, “Here’s to forgetting tonight,” to which Coach K responded, “Here’s to never forgetting tonight.”

An obsession with winning or getting it right doesn’t come from hope – it comes from failing, and that often. Flight simulators, practice on the football field or the basketball court are not intended to replicate success. Instead they are incidents of repetitive failure so we can learn how to succeed. Success lies between the footprints of failure.

When financial planning is done well, it does not think of all the good things that can happen. Nobody has ever suffered from having too much money. It comes with an obsession with learning how to fail in a meaningful way. A successful financial plan is sensitive to the things that can go wrong today. If you don’t simulate these outcomes in advance, you are taking unnecessary risk. Successfully studying and simulating failure, leads to the safest financial plan of them all.

  • Share this story!