By Mark Taylor
Failure is a word that people use almost exclusively in a negative context. “I failed so I must be rubbish”, “I couldn’t lift that so I’m weak”, “I can’t do that because I failed at it last time”, “I’m not trying that because I might fail at it and look bad”. I hear these comments on a daily basis and as a coach and as a person I completely understand these thought processes. They are natural for a lot of, if not most people.
This concept or thought process is sometimes referred to as ‘fear of failure’.
However, what separates successful people from less successful people is the successful people have these thoughts and quickly make the decision (consciously or subconsciously) to ignore these thoughts. By the way, when I say successful people I mean either successful people in business, life, sport or even people who are able to push past a previous failure and accomplish something in any situation however big or small.
I personally have this battle in my head almost every day and have to work incredibly hard to drown out that voice in the gym, and in my personal and professional life. I’m sure we all know people who don’t seem to have this problem and will put themselves out there and attempt new, sometimes crazy things regularly and without regard to negative consequences (often at risk to their health!).
Now I don’t want to get too deep here but think about a time in your life where you failed something, your driving test might be an example (talking from experience here!). I can bet almost everyone reading this didn’t quit after failing their test. They will have brushed themselves off and come back to try again and probably 99% of people reading this passed eventually. So my question is why can we brush off failing something like this and come back to try again however hard it may be?
The reason here is that if we don’t pass we will end up relying on lifts from other people and therefore suffering a lack of independence forever, so the motivation is HUGE!
So, how does this relate to training?
We somehow need to get into the mind-set that this failure in whatever the task it is, is only temporary but also remember what our ultimate goal is and how we will feel once we get there.
Once we understand how passing this particular task will get us closer to reaching our goal then we almost have no choice but to confront that failure head on and keep pushing.
For example, let’s say you failed to maintain eating in line with your nutrition plan for a week or more resulting in not losing as much body fat as you hoped. It is easy to say “life got in the way”, “I failed” or “this is too hard” and just give up. At this point you need to think back to your ultimate goal and how you will feel when you achieve it. Hopefully that motivation to keep trying will come back and you’ll confront the fear of failure and try again, and again if necessary.
So the next time you don’t quite hit a goal or lift a weight that you tried to, don’t think, “I failed this is too hard.” Picture the positive feelings you will have WHEN you achieve your ultimate goal, understand how achieving this task will get you closer to that goal, then go out there and smash it regardless of how scared you are by it.