Every athlete will experience failure to some degree. For some it might be getting injured and missing out on an entire season, others it might be losing the championship game, or it may just be not reaching your initial goals that you set on out in the beginning of the season. While failure is something we all work to avoid, it is essential to understand the correct way to respond to failure and even use it to fuel you for your next season ahead. Here are just 4 tips in responding to failure well.
1. Don’t dwell or replay the failure in the same way that triggers a negatively judgemental response with no positive feelings or positive behavioral action. James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits, writes in his “Your current trajectory is far more important than your current results.” This is an incredibly important truth to remember as you journey through seasons of athletics. We must always consider the future trajectory of our training and competition regardless if we are at a very low point in the season or extremely high. The worst thing you can do with failure is do nothing and let it damage your self-esteem and confidence.
2. Don’t anchor your identity in how well your athletics go (ie. succeeding or failing) – There is freedom in removing your identity from how well you are doing in your athletics. Rather find joy and confidence in the journey of maturing and becoming a better athlete. There is always new things to learn, strengthen, and find joy in when you embrace the journey and appreciate the process just as much as the results.
3. Plan out an achievable specific next step in the direction you want to go – Coach John Wooden once said, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” Failure is simply an opportunity to take a step back an evaluate what went wrong in your system and why. Most often, the root cause of our failures are going to be found somewhere in our everyday habits that we practice. Both our successes and failures are found in our daily routine. Habits that most affect one’s athletic successes & failure are found in consistently (training), sleep, nutrition, hydration, stress management, and lifestyle choices.
4. Don’t blame others & avoid responsibility – It is essential to differentiate the controllable vs. non-controllable factors that are involved within the failure. Do not dwell on our have remorse on the non-controllable factors that you cannot do anything about. Regardless if it was primarily the cause from a non-controllable external contributor, still seek ways to improve upon the little responsibility that you do have. Don’t threaten your own character or self-esteem merely because you stumbled once or twice.