I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Orlando for my daughter’s high school cheerleading competition. Her team had won their division for the last three years and they were going for their fourth state title in a row. So, you can imagine their disappointment when instead of the fourth title, they came in fourth place. There were many tears, but there was something else that made me immensely proud.

I watched the team pull together in a way they had not done all year. They comforted and encouraged each other, and instead of wallowing in their pity (well after the first night anyway), they focused on how far they had come that year. Her team has been in what you would call a “rebuilding” year… some had graduated, some quit, not as many tried out, etc.

When the year began, most of the cheerleaders who had been on the team for any length of time felt like they had no chance to “keep the streak alive”. But they worked hard anyway; and they pushed themselves, each other, and the new team members, to be better than they ever thought they could be. And they had a real shot at a 4th straight title… going into finals they had the highest score by a pretty good margin. Although it didn’t work out the way they had hoped they are still determined to do their best at UCA Nationals this weekend and “leave it on the mat”.

Sometimes in our career, we do all that we can, but still come up short. That doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard, or that it was a total failure. I love the saying; “It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it.” We embrace that at Daxko, and there is even a “Fail Wall” in the engineering department where the things that were learned from a failure are prominently displayed.  Despite setbacks, if you keep pushing, learn from mistakes, and “leave it on the mat”, then you’re a winner in my book.

Was there a setback in your career that helped you to focus and come out even stronger in the end? Feel free to share your stories in the comments below.

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