Using Failures to Find Success - Lessons From Senior Night

Taylor MountsComing off of a successful season as a junior, Taylor Mounts wanted more out of his senior season. He had earned Northwest Conference all-star honors, but had not propelled his team to a high level of play. For his last season as a Bearcat, he wanted not only to have another great season individually, but most importantly to get his team to the playoffs. He committed his off-season to working on skill development and overall conditioning, which included weight training, stair workouts, and hill sprints. He physically did more work to becoming a better athlete and player last summer than he previously had done his entire college career. He went all in on reaching his basketball goals. I was able to watch the Willamette University men’s basketball senior night, featuring Taylor Mounts. It was an inspiring performance with an ending that couldn’t have been more emotional. Taylor finished with 24 points, 7 rebound, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. The stat line was not the impressive part, however. It’s the process that Taylor took to get the senior night win.

Going in to senior night, Willamette had an overall record of 5-18 and was 3-11 in league. It was not the season Taylor had in mind when he was puking on the side of a quarter-mile hill during August. Their opponent, George Fox, was coming into the game with playoff hopes. At halftime, Willamette was down by eight, and Taylor was struggling with 7 points, shooting 3-9 from the field. With a season of continued losing behind him, it would be easy to coast through the 2nd half. But with the commitment Taylor made to improve as a player in the off-season and his “all-in” approach to maximize his potential as an athlete, he played the 2nd half like his season depended on it.

Taylor scored 17 points on 8-11 shooting with 7 rebounds in the 2nd half. He willed his team to overcome a 9-point deficit in the last 15 minutes. He scored the final 6 points for his team including a fadeaway jumper from the baseline that gave Willamette their first lead of the game with 6 seconds remaining. They had every opportunity to throw in the towel. Taylor’s leadership inspired his teammates, and his commitment to improvement inspired his will to win.

What I Learned on Senior Night…

The more you give, the more you resist failure

If you half-heartedly make an attempt at something, your failures along the way won’t be impactful. This leads to quitting. When you identify your goal, make sure that you a ready to go all in. Commit to achieving what you want to achieve. Then, when you have setbacks, you won’t quit. Those setbacks will motivate you to work harder and become more focused.

The more you commit, the more gratifying success will be

Willamette did not win a league title on senior night. But it was a win in front of the largest home crowd of the season during the last home game of Taylor’s career. The fact that he put all of his effort into becoming a better basketball player made that moment special. It was the chance for Taylor to produce results in front of the people who motivated him to commit to what he was doing. It wasn’t just a win, it was a celebration of achievement.

The more you care, the more you will commit

There’s nothing worse then trying to achieve something you do not care about. Make sure that you are reaching for something that inspires you. For anyone who has gone through a losing season, you know that each loss affects everyone in different ways. Some people (those who do not care about the team or sport) brush off each loss and find humor in the performance of their team. Others (the ones who are passionate about what they do), become eager to improve and perform better while inspiring their teammates to do the same.