I’m a giant failure

Yes friend, I know the purpose of this newsletter is to educate, motivate, and inspire you to take action every day to get 1% better on your pursuit towards your goals, but unlike a lot of other newsletters and personal development sites that often only focus on positive psychology, affirmations, and manifesting success, I like to bring the honest truth.

And the honest truth is that anyone who has achieved success at anything only got there because they failed miserably, and more importantly they failed often. Moreover, the only reason they eventually became “successful” is because they kept forging ahead while the others on a similar path quit.

In that regard, I consider myself a gigantic failure. And the only reason I end up succeeding at virtually everything I pursue is because I’m willing to fail publicly, fail often, and fail faster than everyone else. Like light speed fast.

And this past weekend I failed spectacularly. Again.

I competed in my second local ninja competition (here’s the full video if you want to watch, my run starts at 21 min), and in my age group (the “Masters” as we old folks in the sport are called) I placed 4th. Doesn’t sound horrible until you realize only 4 people in my age group competed.

Which means I placed last.

Does this mean that I should just give up on my quest to become an American Ninja Warrior?

There is no question that would be one way to look at this.

But instead I’ve spent the last two days focusing on all the improvements I’ve made since my first competition (where I also placed last in my age group), and more importantly how ridiculous it is to even think that I could even use the word “failure” after watching what I did in this video considering I struggled to walk around my block just a few years ago. I’ve also put together a plan of attack to work on my weaknesses, attack them, and do better the next time I compete in December.

Which brings me to the scariest part of today’s email → I’m sharing for the first time publicly what happened on my rookie run of American Ninja Warrior.

If you’ve followed along with this saga over the years then you already know my rookie run didn’t make it on television, and that’s not uncommon. In fact only about 35-40% of all those competing get on TV.

But the real reason I didn’t air has nothing to do with statistics.

It’s because my run just wasn’t good.

The show was confident enough I had an inspirational story to share which is why they chose me out of over 90,000 applicants, and they wanted to give me a shot to back up that story with an entertaining and inspirational run. And to be brutally honest – I just didn’t deliver. I wish I could say it was because I slipped. Or I got fatigued from doing ridiculously hard stuff. Or I put my hand in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The honest reason I failed is because I didn’t believe that I belonged on that course at all.

And mindset is EVERYTHING.

Luckily mindset is an area I spend a lot of time focusing my energy & attention with my Optimizer coaching & mentorship students, and it’s also an area where I have an entire support team of friends and mentors to help me through the imposter syndrome, the doubts, and the times when I ask myself, “Why do I put myself through this?”

And American Ninja Warrior Alex Weber is definitely on that short list of friends & mentors I owe a debt of gratitude for helping me have the proper mindset to manage all of the failure that is inevitable when you set difficult goals.


Ep169: Why Becoming a Failure is Essential to Success | with Alex Weber, ANW

Alex Weber
is an international speaker, American Ninja Warrior, award-winning entertainer, and author of the upcoming book Fail Proof: Become the Unstoppable You. Alex travels the country teaching top professionals and leaders how to bring their very best everyday to the most high-stakes situations that can make or break their success.

In this conversation, Alex and I go deep into the honest history of our many collective failures, analyzing and extracting the important lessons that have come from them and highlighting how important they’ve been to our successes. We discuss the importance of community and how essential it is to find people who support your highest goals and most basic needs. Because when you have a strong support structure around you, your chances of success increase exponentially. I hope this conversation inspires you to step outside your own discomfort zone and pursue goals you thought previously unachievable now that you will be “Fail Proof.”

Be well.
Zack Arnold
Creator, Optimize Yourself

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”