Want to become a champion? Want to know the one
biggest secret to success in and out of sports? Want
to know what really separates winners from
losers in every sport?
The secret to your
athletic success is very simple! If you truly want to
reach your athletic dreams the one thing you have to
learn to do better than most everyone else is
Fail??? That's right! I said, "fail!" Failure
is the secret, master key to unlocking the doors to
all of your athletic dreams. I know
You think I'm
nuts right? Perhaps Dr. G has spent too much time out
in the hot summer sun. Failure is suppose to be this
terrible thing that you want to avoid at all costs.
This nasty, humiliating occurrence that destroys lives
and kills motivation, right? Wrong!! Failure is not
as you think!
Understand this. You
can't get better as an athlete unless you're
willing to fail enough!
Why? Because failures, mistakes and losses provide you
with a valuable source of feedback. They tell you what
you did wrong and what not to do next time. In this
way failures highlight your weaknesses. What's so wonderful
about that? Simple! You can't get better, faster,
stronger or more skilled
in your sport without knowing your shortcomings. Remember,
a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Every time that you fail, lose or mess up, you have
an opportunity, if you're smart enough to recognize
it, to lift the level of your training.
There are two general
ways that athletes deal with setbacks and
failure. The most common
one is also the wrong way! That is, using failure as
evidence that you're inadequate, weak, "no good",
etc. Athletes who do this use their failures to emotionally
beat themselves up. This is the athlete who throws his
equipment in disgust after the game or the tennis player
who loses a match and says to himself, "You idiot!
You suck! You have no game! My grandmother could've
beaten you today." When you use your mistakes and
losses in this way you will not help your training.
This kind of self-abuse only serves to kill your confidence,
undercut your motivation and interfere with
The second way of
dealing with failure is the one used by champions.
To them, failure is nothing more than what you have
to do to get there. Failure and losses provide the answers
to the success puzzle. They tell you exactly what you
did wrong and therefore what you need to work on to
this way, mistakes and failure supply you with that
all important feedback to take you to the next level.
To master anything new, you must start out at the bottom,
as a beginner.
Beginners can only learn by making mistakes and figuring
out through these mistakes what not to do the next time
in order to get it right. If you give yourself too much
of a hard time when you fail, then you'll be more reluctant
to take the risks necessary to get you to your goals.
Remember Nike's old ad with Michael Jordan talking about
all his failures, all the last second shots with the
game on the line that he missed, the times he cost his
team the game, the time he was cut from his high school
basketball squad. The commercial ends with MJ saying,
"And it's because of all these setbacks
and failures that I'm
so successful today."
I was the number one
singles tennis player for my college and twice Conference
Champion. How I got to this level of excellence is quite
simple. I had to lose a lot of matches. I had to collect
a lot of disappointments. I had to learn to tolerate
a tremendous amount of frustration. With every failure
I improved just a little more. I built my tennis success
on each of my failures and you can too! I learned to
speak in front of groups the same way. I started off
as awful and got good by messing up a whole lot.
Am I telling you that
you have to like failing? No Way! Am I telling
you that mediocrity
is OK? Never! I have never met a champion who liked
failing. I have never met a consistent winner who was
ever satisfied with a half-hearted effort. Winners hate
failing with a passion. However, they are smart enough
to know that failing is an important part of the process.
It's what you have to do to get to success.
One final key point
about failing and performance. If you are worried about
losing or messing up, then chances are good that you
will perform badly. You will always do your best when
you have absolutely nothing to lose. Athletes always
choke when they get too focused on the outcome. Forget
failing. It's not the end of the world! Stop tying your
ego up with the outcome of your game, match or race.
Failure is not your enemy! Instead, failure is a very
important training partner! Losing is nothing more than
feedback. Open your
eyes and ears and treat your setbacks this way. Learn
from them! Don't dwell on them! Then forget them!
is feedback and feedback is the breakfast of champions!
If you're interested in more techniques to help you
turn mistakes into failure read Dr. G's new book, Sports
Slump Busting or listen to his mental toughness training audio-cassette