Dealing with “Failure”

Everyone has encountered  disappointments. We are human. We fail. How we deal with failure is critical however to ultimate success. One way to begin to deal with a failure is by using empowering terminology. Do you see it as a failed “experiment” or “failure”? Do you see it as an “opportunity for feedback” on something which had an outcome other than desired? Is it an “opportunity to learn”?

Semantics? Partially, yes. However, our emotions and how we deal with a less than desired result starts with our appraisal of the situation. Indeed, it is essential to have a constructive view of the event. Think about it, nothing ever truly fails. So, first you always get some kind of results… they just might not be the ones you intended or wanted.  It starts with the right mindset.

Second, reframe the incident. If you can answer these questions then you are on your way to constructively dealing with “failure”.

• What did you learn?
• What would you do differently?

The answers move away from blaming, complaining and perceptions of powerlessness and towards empowerment, knowledge and choice.

Third, let’s deal with your appraisal of the situation. Do you give yourself credit for attempting something? Nothing great is accomplished without trying one’s limits. Only through going beyond your limits do you establish your limits. If you accomplish something, no matter how hard, it was indeed within yourself. If it were not, you would not have accomplished it! By definition, if you can do it, it is within your capabilities. Think about it.

That brings me to the much misused “giving 110%”. There is no such thing. Math taught us that. 100% is everything. There is no more than everything within you on that given day or in that given situation. No matter how difficult it was, once you have accomplished something, the most it possibly could be is 100%. It just means that everything up until that moment was either less than 100% or you have added resources, skills, knowledge to raise the bar… raise what your “100%” is. It is a new 100% but it is not 110%. You can only give what you have!

And finally, how do you improve your chances of getting the results you want next time? There are key elements to success. Each time you “fail” at something, go through the following list. Answer these questions. They lead you to where you need to improve to “succeed” the next time and how to raise your “100%” bar.

• Do you have the skills, abilities and knowledge to succeed? Only training, education and practice can change this.
• Do you have all the resources available to you to succeed? This includes all the equipment, knowledgeable coaches, reference sources, and time available to do what is asked of you.
• Is your environment conducive to your success? Outside factors can impact your efforts. For isntance, stressful environments, counterproductive procedures and policies need to be aligned for performance for the work environment. Factors outside of work including family, illnesses, etc. are considered environmental elements to address as well.
• Are you willing to do what it takes to succeed? Does the pay-off outweigh the price you will have to pay? This is the motivation element. You can have all of the above elements but without the fuel – the motivation – to make it all work, it won’t work.

Performance and motivation  analysis is one service a good coach and consultant can do for you or even your organization. The problem is that most running coaches do not have a sports psychology background as well. Contact me to see how I can help you succeed like never before! Only you know if you are ready. It all starts with the right mindset.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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