Fall seven, rise eight. 🇯🇵 proverb.

The biggest advice, I can offer you.. The biggest lesson I've learned on my journey: Is to get up. More specifically, to love the challenge of getting up – after giving it your best and ‘failing.’

I spoke this morning with the boys and girls of the Australian Junior National Team and I was asked a question that I couldn’t help but laugh at – it was a beautiful reminder how much of my story is hidden through the lens of social media and where I am currently in my career.


“Have you had any setbacks in your career and if so, how did you respond?”
 Allow me to brag about my failures..


2001 - My team placed dead last at Nationals in the lowest division

2001 - The following season, i wasn’t good enough to make the 16-1s team, instead I had to play on the 16-2s team

2004 - I wasn’t good enough to travel with Long Beach State, so I redshirted

2009 – I became an All-American at Long Beach State but I didn’t receive any professional contracts, so I missed a full year of playing overseas and stayed in the states coaching club volleyball.

2011 – After getting a contract and being awarded the best libero of the Finnish League, I didn’t receive any offers and had to return to the same team (The Finnish League is one of the lowest European Leagues)

2013 – After being awarded the best libero of the French B league, I returned home and was told by the new coaching staff for Team USA I was cut.

2013 – I was benched by my Brazilian Team – later I came back as a defensive libero.

2015 – After signing with a mid-level team in France A - the team went bankrupt and I ended up signing with a team who had the lowest budget in the league. We ended up going 3-23.

2018 – I signed to play for the best team in Germany, BR Volleys (I was so stoked!) except I was replaced/benched half-way into the season. The team ended up buying out my 2nd year of my contract.

2018 –Team USA decided to travel 3 setters to the finals of VNL and the World Cup instead of taking 2 liberos - It was my first time not traveling with the team since 2015.

2020 – I received a phone call letting me know I was cut from Team USA (later in 2021, I was asked to rejoin the team)

Failures, roadblocks and setbacks - I’ve had a lot and oddly enough, I am so grateful for them – as they have helped shaped the man and the athlete I am today. I believe these ‘failures’ can be the biggest harbingers for growth, maturation and evolution. These moments present opportunities for us to look within, learn and shed habits, routines and values that don’t align with the highest version of our self we aspire to be.

“Great Dusty, I get it, you’ve failed. What does this have to do with me? What can I do in my journey?”


When you ‘fail,’ experience a roadblock, a setback or anything that falls outside of your personal preference for how sport or life should of gone – I believe we must do 2 things.

 1stWe get up: We spend the least amount of time possible complaining, ranting, resenting, venting or playing the role of the victim.

2ndWe reflect, learn and evolve. We must have the courage and discipline to ask ourselves important questions to help us grow from this situation we just experienced. At the very minimum, we should take some added intention into the next week after reflecting on where we weren’t ‘good’ enough.

✔ How can I be more intentional?
✔ How can I be more creative?
✔ How can I be more mindful?
✔ What steps can I take to prepare my body and mind at a higher level?
✔ How can I be more efficient with my time on or off the court?

✔ What can I sacrifice to make room for habits that will help me grow into my best version? 

It's up to you.
You can quit.
You can complain.
You can find a scapegoat.
And you can find a family member or friend to sympathize with you. 

But none of these will help you grow into your best version. As I concluded my talk with the Australian boys and girls Junior National team, if there is one thing to take away from what I had to say – it’s to get up and continue forward.

Would you like to connect your program, club or team with me? During the pandemic I spoke with over 25 youth clubs and 10 colleges, this past year I met with 5 NAIA teams personally. I love bridging my journey as a current pro with the vision of so many likeminded coaches who.. at times have a hard time getting their players to go all in on the values and priorities they know are important to their team's success. If you would like to jump on a call with me and see if I can fire up your athletes to be more mindful, more intentional and more committed to their journey and your team's success - throw me an email at dustinwatten@gmai.com Speak soon!


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