In Handling Failure/Adversity, Winning/Losing

I’m a very competitive person. I have an extremely high commitment to excellence and I’m a firm believer in hard work as the primary vehicle to get you to where you want to go. I don’t like failing, whether it’s related to sports, my work as a Sports Performance Consultant or anything else for that matter. As a professional, it absolutely drives me bananas when I am unable to solve an athlete’s or coach’s performance problem. Whether it was the athlete’s issues, my own or circumstances out of my control, my expectations are that I should always bat 1.000. I feel like I should be able to help every single athlete that seeks out my services without exception. How realistic is that? NOT VERY!

In the real world, commitment to excellence or not, great work ethic or not, you don’t always succeed. In the real world, failure is as much a part of sports and life as success is. Reality is that you’ll fail a whole lot more times than you succeed. This is especially true in the beginning of your career when you’re first learning. And then there’s those sports like baseball, where you can fail 65% to 70% of the time as a hitter and this is considered damn good.

There are a lot of reasons why you just can’t win them all, not the least of which is that in most performance arenas, winning and success are always multi-determined. That is, there are always so many factors which will ultimately determine your success or failure, many of which you have little to no control over. For example, weather conditions, officiating, playing conditions, the skill, size and strength of your opponents, your teammates’ play, how you feel that particular day, whether you’re on or off, whether your opponent is on or off and just plain good or bad luck.

Here’s the problem for myself and a lot of athletes. HIGH EXPECTATIONS! I have very high standards for myself and sometimes I don’t care about all the realistic factors that ultimately determine success and failure. I still expect myself to bat 1.000. Having this kind of perfectionistic expectations is not very helpful for you as an athlete because you can’t always meet them. As a result, you will spend a lot of time taking on too much responsibility for your failures and making yourself very unhappy.

My advice to those high striving athletes and coaches who may be like me: Cut yourself some slack. Forgive your failures. Learn from your losses and continue to strive to be better. Understand that there is no perfection. You can’t always be at your best. Accept it and forgive yourself for being human. Simply put: You can’t win ‘em all!


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