Commentary

July 26, 2013

Leap to your limits

Lt. Col. Oliver K. Leeds
92nd Air Refueling Squadron

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -†One of the lessons I carry around with me every day is something I learned from the jumping events in high school track and field.

I was intimidated by the high jump. Unlike the long jump, where every leap into the sand pit could be measured and faults were not embarrassing, the high jump presented a daunting binary challenge: clear the bar or make an embarrassing spectacle. Knocking the bar down could hurt if it landed between me and the mat, and the groans from spectators could be ego devastating.

Some of my long jumps were better than others, but none felt like failures. In the high jump, however, failure was certain. Every competition has the same sequence: jump, succeed; jump, succeed; jump, fail. It was always there, stalking me. Eventually, my limits prepared me to announce to the world, “I failed!”

One day, at my more comfortable long jump pit, my attitude swung 180 degrees. Simply put, I was discontented not knowing if I had done my best. Could I have run faster? Did I jump too far behind the line? Should I have waited for the breeze to shift directions? The second guessing went on and on. I didn’t have this problem in the high jump. In the high jump, I always knew I did my best, because I pushed myself until I failed. Eureka!

Had I found comfort in failure? Yes, because it assured me I had done my best, and removed regrets for not having tried.

My thoughts turned immediately to the sealed and addressed, yet unmailed, envelope on my desk at home. It was college application season, and I had been accepted to all four schools to which I had applied. But the application on my desk was different — it was to “the long-shot school” – the school I would go to if I could, but seriously doubted I had a chance.

Wasn’t it smarter to avoid failure? I could spend the rest of my life thinking I wasn’t rejected, rather than apply and remove all doubt. But that day, 23 years ago, I glanced over my shoulder at an unusually inspiring high jump bar. I walked out of my uncertain sand, went home and mailed the application. Sure enough, two months later I was rejected. It was my first true failure in the road of life, but I have spent the decades since confident that I have done my best and grateful that I had learned to live a life without regrets.

Some of my fellow Airmen surprise me for not seeing that lesson. I have known people not†applying for jobs for fear of rejection. I’ve known NCOs and officers alike†retiring before finding out if they were selected for a promotion. All kinds of challenges are declined for some form or flavor of failure avoidance.

Life is short, and an Air Force career is fast. Not failing does not mean you are successful; it means you traveled too cautiously. Leap to your limits, learn from failures and live without regrets. That is a successful journey!




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Brief October 31, 2014

Blood drive The next American Red Cross Blood Drive at Edwards is 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Nov. 5 in the Chapel 1 Annex. Both walk-ins and appointments are accepted. To make an appointment, contact the blood drive coordinators at 661-277-0824, or self-register online at the American Red Cross website http://www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation using sponsor code: “Chapel1″ If you...
 
 
holiday-meal

Joshua Tree Inn Dining Facility holiday meals

The Joshua Tree Inn Dining Facility is pleased to announce that The 2014 holiday meals at the Joshua Tree Inn Dining Facility will be served Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, and Christmas Day, Dec. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. †The meals...
 
 
library

Edwards Library tops for successful summer program

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber In children’s reading programs, there are many ways to track their progress such as number of books read or length of time spent reading. During the summer reading program, the Base L...
 

 
health-fair1

Health fair

  Senior Airman Dominique Lyles, 412th Medical Group medical technician, places her hand under the glow germ demonstration at the Kern County Environmental Health Division booth during the 412th MDG Health Fair held Oct. 2...
 
 
soccer

Soccer league

The Edwards co-ed adult soccer team is accepting new players ages 16 and up. The team is self-funded and plays in the co-ed Antelope Futbol League. †Practices are held on Wings field each Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5:15...
 
 

Step up to better health with AFMC’s challenge

Do you have ‘sitting disease’? Too much time sitting down may put you at risk for health problems. When muscles don’t contract, they require less fuel, and the surplus of sugar that accumulates in the bloodstream contributes to health concerns. Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time – watching TV or at...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>