Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prepare to Win

“Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” - Bobby Knight

When pushed conversationally far enough, athletes will often say that the ultimate competition is with oneself. Even combat athletes note that mental toughness and the handling of inner voices is crucial when dealing with a direct physical opponent.

All of us working to develop a healthy physical relationship with ourselves come up against some form of inner conflict, or the urge to derail progress via inner dialogue.

To "compete", from its Latin root means,"to strive together" (Thank you Mushtaq Ali for that lesson).

Outer events (and goals) are in fact, inner opportunities to "strive together" with ourselves. Fighting ourselves rarely works, especially in the long term. Progress is made by convincing our doubts to take (at least) a short break and trust us to get the job done well. Getting the voices to either take a rest or join the cause sets the foundation for a breakthrough.

Scheduling time to check-in and take stock of common internal themes allows us to develop a mental strategy for whatever we are working toward. That is preparing to win.

Whatever style of physical relationship we have with ourselves, "striving together", rather than "fighting against", is the way to long-term balanced strength and meaningful outward success.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Failure: an Outcome

Last week this quote flashed around my social media pages and I even received it via text. It wouldn't go away.

"It was scarier not to try than to try and fail." - Carrie Wilkerson

I've been risk-discussion averse for a long time, mostly due to my own unresolved feelings about failure. As I write this today, I find that I'm glad I have not succeeded in some things I intensely attempted. Figuring this out has not been pretty, but it is important. Future choices will be built on these acknowledgments.

Many high-stake personal and professional risks totally bomb in terms of outward success. A lot of people don't talk about it. After a few well thought out risks go wrong, it can be tough to step back onto the ledge. It can feel irresponsible to dare to go for it again. That's why I want the "Now That You've Failed" guide.

The "Now That You've Failed" guide would be a great feedback manual. It would welcome the reader to the post-risk-recovery area, the other side of the fear of failure. The place where courage is acknowledged, strengths and weaknesses are assessed, and the faulty game-plan is reverse-engineered to evaluate the exact moment(s) it went wrong. How else can progress occur?

I am especially in favor of the fail fast model. If its not working, make it not work quickly! Figure it out and move forward. Lingering too long, trying to save a sinking ship is unnecessarily draining.

Sometimes success/fail measures in life are more like getting a belt promotion in martial arts. You do some things pretty well. Sometimes you make stupid mistakes, or miss your angle (repeatedly, for years). Some days you bang your head against the steering wheel of your car (I do this), ready to quit, but you don't. Then out of seemingly nowhere you get a promotion. Then you must train harder and smarter, and do it all again.

Does failure motivate or defeat? A giant trajectory follows the answer. The experience of losing begins to eliminate the fear of losing, building a stronger constitution. Learning from mistakes makes the likelihood of success much higher. Finding the right balance between sanity and reaching too far too fast is vital.

Failure happens, sometimes a lot. Failure is no reason to stop pursuing something important.

As Dave Checkett said: “Success builds character, failure reveals it.”