It’s interesting to listen to high performing athletes.
They push themselves to great lengths. A source of that motivation is often the failures they’ve had.
For them it’s not always so much about the feeling of winning, but about avoiding the feeling of losing.
And some of them, when talking about their careers, will remember the losses much more than they remember the wins.
I remember hearing Tiger Woods speak just a few years ago about a tournament he lost early in his career. I don’t think it affecting him to the extreme, but the fact that he still remembered it decades later in spite of all his success was interesting.
The Fear Of Failure
People in the US and Europe have a poor outlook on failure. We look at failure as a bad thing. We don’t want to experience it after we’ve experienced it once. We’re ashamed of it. And we shame others that have experienced it.
I remember sitting with a group once. One person in the group had been very successful in life. But as we sat there another person pointed out one or two of the successful person’s failures.
Why do this?
Does it make us feel good? Apparently it does.
But after we left the group I ran up to the successful person and asked him about it. He said that it did bother him a bit when others pointed out his failures. But then he grinned and said, “But I win in the end. While they’re focused about failure I’m focused on success. And my success has far outweighed my failure.”
Kids are a great example of how ridiculous it is to obsess over failure. Kids fail all the time. They’re learning. Imagine if a child was ashamed to walk or talk. Civilization would cease to exist.
It turns out that positive feedback is much more conducive to great work and productivity than negative feedback. It’s true with our dealings with others and with ourselves.
People and teams respond better to positive feedback. And that likely means that we respond to positive feedback as well.
But sometimes we’re our own worst critic. We tell ourselves that we’re no good. We push failure down our own throats. And what does it really accomplish? According to the data it doesn’t accomplish much.
And it may even result in us focusing on the negatives of others. If you’re running a business you could be too critical of yourself and of your staff. And that can lead to a downward spiral.
Get New Friends
One reason that we’re hard on ourselves could be the people we’re spending time with. It’s amazing how we take on the characteristics of those we spend most of our time with.
It’s easy to fall into the negativity trap if we’re around negative people all the time.
Maybe you meet a couple friends every week for drinks. And most of the conversation is spent complaining about work and home life.
What’s the point?
Or maybe you’re the one bringing the group down.
It turns out that keeping a gratitude journal can greatly improve your happiness and well being.
Instead of focusing on all the negative things you’re doing, use a gratitude journal to recognize the things that you do well and that you’re grateful for.
Give yourself a break.
One of my favorite TV shows was King Of The Hill. Peggy Hill was a very happy, upbeat person. There was an episode where Hank told her that she had a very high opinion of herself.
Am I supposed to have a low opinion of myself?
It made you laugh a little until you realized that she was right. Why should we have a low opinion of ourselves?
Obviously we don’t want to be delusional about ourselves and our abilities. But maybe we’re trending to the other side and being delusional about how bad we think we are at life…