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Athletic Mindset: Handling Failure as an athlete in sports

Plus 7 Tips to overcome Failure with a Positive Mindset

"I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying again" - Michael Jordan

Life is designed for us to encounter tons of challenges and failures in order to improve and gain wisdom along this journey. But without these learning curves, could we ever really improve? If everyone was born with the same gifts, talents and work ethics, would anything really separate us or our abilities...?

Well the hard part about failure is not getting deterred from bad results, and maintaining focus and effort for achieving the desired results. Of course depending on the level of mastery one is trying to reach, i.e Olympic, collegiate or professional sports, then it will take even more years of ups and downs with constant adjustments and mental resilience to ensure consistent success is possible.

When we deal with failure it all starts with our perspective of it. Do we see it as as bad, or "helpful". The goal is to be a master of something, but can we expect to master something overnight, in a month, maybe a year, probably not... Now everyone is different, and their learning curves can be faster or slower depending on the individual. But, no matter what it will take at least a minimum or 10,000 hours or 10,000 consistent reps in order to be around the ball park of what it takes to master a craft.

" I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed "- Michael Jordan

Without failure there is no success... Remember that... We can't get better if we were perfect from the start. And even the most naturally talented athletes still have to work very hard at their sport, because nothing is guaranteed and "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard"

If we approach failure with the right mindset then we change how we view our results, and use them for creating improvements instead of anger or sadness. A quote I would write on my baseball hat as a mental reminder would be "don't let success go to your head, and don't let failure go to your heart" This always helped me in both situations to stay more grounded and in the moment, so that I could maintain even keel emotions and not get too excited or too depressed from the current results. Unless it's your very last game of your athletic career... you will most likely get another chance to redeem yourself and create better results. So just learn, make an adjustment and try again, eventually it all aligns.

Ask anyone in across the spectrum of careers other than just sports, and they will tell you the same facts, that it takes lots of trial and errors before you really nail anything down. Of course some people may get lucky and be ahead of the learning curve, but to really consistently repeat any results, it will take lots of practice. Just imagine... the best athletes have failed more than most people have even attempted... Take that in.. The most successful people at anything, have failed the most. How else can you refine your approach and mechanics...? Even when we have coaches that try to teach us how it should look or feel, it still takes our own experience plus "Feel vs Real" to be in line for anything to actually work.

Have you ever seen any athlete with the exact same mechanics as another one? Probably NOT... But each of those athletes knows how to get the job done by using what works for them. We can compare mechanics and efficiency forever, but sometimes just hard work and confidence trumps aesthetics and sports science. The key is finding a way to create the desired results no matter what. Anything else is just lessons to help make it REALITY.

We as athletes tend to get overly focused on fixing mechanics or set up because we think that those are the primary reason we didn't get the correct results. But, often it's other adjustments like timing, position or mindset/focus that were possibly out of sync and needs to be dialed in better.

Now if failure happens due to lack of preparation than you were preparing to fail... The work must be put in, and the reps and time can never be substituted by laziness. When we have the right mindset, work ethic and self-confidence, anything is achievable. It's just a matter of time. Some of the best athletes took 10-15 years before they really had their ultimate glory and success. Some never do... But, it's about enjoying the process and loving the journey.

A big reason failure hits so many athletes negatively is because they are only focused on results... it's ok, I've been there and done that. The lesson I learned: have fun, enjoy the moment and love the process. It actually creates better results than trying to force anything or be too serious about the game. Yes we want to put our best effort and full attention to detail, but getting overly angry or depressed is unnecessary and will create a rollercoaster of emotional stability. We can't go back in time, and there is nothing worse than regret. So try not to be consumed by ONLY results, because that is just a small piece of what sports is all about. The life lessons, great friendships and healthy fitness development are the real purpose of sports. Plus, we actually perform better for future desired results if we are more in the moment anyways, so focusing too far ahead is also a deterrent for maximizing the opportunity that's right in front of us. Yesterday is a lesson, tomorrow is the next progression and today is a blessing. Make the most of what's insight and the rest will handle its self.

Below are 7 simple steps that can help you overcome failure and see it as a positive experience

1) Have fun and don't take everything too seriously, it's not the end all.

2) Play for others and or the team first, it will bring out the best in us and change the focus from just our results.

3) Enjoy the process let go of clinging to results

4) Live in the moment, let go of thoughts about yesterday and tomorrow, they're out of our control anyways.

5) Control what you can control... focusing on anything else will make it harder to perform

6) No matter how much you fail, if you keep learning from the mistakes then you're still moving forward, some of the best athletes said failure was their biggest motivation and push into success.

7) Failing to prepare is preparing to fail... don't expect results without the work put in. Have realistic goals that align with your work ethic.

Failure is a great teacher and element in life that we can't run away from. So embrace it! And learn to make the best from a "negative" result. It's only negative if you perceive it to be. If you see it as a positive growing moment, than it won't affect your psyche negatively. At the end of the day it's all about our mindset, anything can be thrown at us, but it's up to us how we react to it. As long as we keep our focus positive, we can thrive in all situations and maintain forward progress in improving our potential and performances.

Stay Strong... Stay Healthy... Stay Consistent & Keep developing yourself

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