While it is true that you should fail forward, there is also wisdom in knowing when to tap out. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “tap out” let me explain. In combat sports, tapping out is when one person, either literally or verbally taps their opponent to indicate surrender or submission. Simply put, its like saying “Uncle”. Failing to tap out can result in broken bones, destroyed joints and ligaments, being rendered unconscious, or in some cases loss of life. You have to know when to tap out.
Back to my trail story.
My left foot was literally wrecked. I could not move it. I could hardly walk. Nevertheless I chose to walk 13 miles forward to the next shelter instead of 12 miles backward toward my car. My reasoning was simple, if I am going to walk 12-13 miles, it might as well be toward the goal and not toward surrender. However, after about 6 miles or so into day 2 I realized that I had reached the limits of safety. I was not at Ranger school or SFAS. I had nothing to prove or earn by crippling myself. This was supposed to be an enjoyable trip in the woods. So I “tapped out” and got off the trail. I decided that the ability to walk without foot surgery was much more important than finishing a thru-hike.
Sometimes, you have to embrace your limitations and live to fight another day.
Some of you are living in self-induced misery and stress because your pride will not allow you to tap out. Why kill yourself? Why live in a constant state of restlessness and worry?
Contrary to popular belief, tapping out isn’t quitting. Tapping out is living to fight another day. Tapping out is learning from our mistakes. For some, tapping out can be the road to victory.
“Tap does not mean you give up. When I tap, it means I have accepted the situation, learned the lesson, and look to apply the experience the next time.”- Ryron Gracie