Responding to the reality of failure: Part 2

The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well…

– Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee and father of the modern Olympic Games.

I recently had the opportunity to go to London and watch a close friend compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. She was 1 of 10,000 athletes competing. While the honor and most of the media attention is deservedly given to the victors, I could not help but think of the other athletes who left London failing to realize their dream. Only 962 medals were awarded during these games. That means more than 90% of the athletes did not medal. How did this overwhelming majority respond to defeat?

How about the countless others from all over the world who train for years, and some almost their entire lives, yet fail to make their respective countries’ Olympic team? How do they respond to the disappointment?

Here at i360 one of our goals is to help our clients respond to success and failure in a way that leads to vibrant, fulfilling lives. In order to do this, we must each ask ourselves, “How do I respond to failure?” Where do I find the will and determination to move forward in a positive direction?

Here are 6 ideas of how we can face and respond to the reality of failure in our lives in a way that will help us find the fulfillment and joy that we are all seeking:

(For the beginning part of this blog, and the first of the 6 suggestions on how to best respond to failure, please visit our previous blog by clicking here.)

4. Stop “Should-ing” on Yourself When we experience defeat its easy to focus on the negative—what I did wrong, what I should have done differently. The problem with should-ing is that it perpetuates the distorted thoughts about yourself and reality. If you find yourself doing this often, ask yourself, “do I have unrealistic expectations for myself? Do I spend a great deal of time dwelling on what I should have done or what I should be doing? If so, practice identifying the times you do this and replace those distorted thoughts with a more realistic assessment of yourself and the situation, e.g. “Nobody is perfect; it’s ok to make a mistake. I learned something new about myself, and how to improve my performance today. The next opportunity I get, I’ll know exactly what to do.” Take 1 day this week and keep track of your “shoulds.” The more you become aware of it and attack those pesky varmints, the less should-ing you will do.

5. Share Your Dream – Surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who will walk with you through best and worst times, and people who will never give up on you—even when you want to give up on yourself. Prioritize these people in your life. Invest in your relationship with them, and share your journey with them. Then you’ll have a supportive ear to listen after a defeat, or someone to celebrate with after a success.

6. Discover Yourself Daily – What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We are human beings living in a constant state of change. Take time each week to discover something new about yourself.

When top tennis player Novac Djokavic was just 5 years old, tennis coach Jelena Gencic discovered his gift. She knew he would be a star one day. She immediately began coaching and mentoring Djokavic. As part of his training, Gencic insisted he listen to classical music, learn at least 2 foreign languages, and recite poetry. When asked why she did that, Djokavic responded, 
“It was her educational method. And the music served as a form of relaxation after the stress of training. Actually, it still does that today. I like to listen to classical music.”

Even though, Djokavic trained for hours and hours everyday, Gencic required him to discover himself daily. To learn about what he likes, and doesn’t like. What helps calm him down in times of stress, and what doesn’t. This week try listening to a new genre of music and check out a live band. Try that exotic food that you always tell people you hate, but secretly never tried. Try white water rafting, stand up paddle boarding, or a new book. Doing this for yourself will not only be fun, but will also help you find balance in your life.

These are only some ideas. What works for you? We at i360 would love to hear from you about this topic!

Written by Mitch Isle, LPC