Jacky Leonard's blog

Archive entries for: Jul-2013

If at first you don’t succeed…

Categories:  Business Coaching, Being on purpose, Training & Coaching, Sport and Leisure

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I can’t accept not trying.”

Michael Jordan

I’m with MJ on this one!  Failure is a natural part of the learning process.  It’s healthy; it provides an opportunity for improvement if you dare to reflect on its lessons and decide how to do things differently.  The only real failure is not to try at all, or quit the first time you get knocked down.  So…are you playing full on, or are you too quick to throw in the towel just because you’ve encountered a tough adversary?

If you watched this year’s men’s Wimbledon tennis final you will have witnessed a great example of what trying really looks like.  Andy Murray, desperate to win the Wimbledon trophy after coming so close last year; and the past champion and world number one Novak Djokovic, in a thrilling head to head.  Two men at the top of their game, in peak physical and mental condition, giving their all and doing their damndest to emerge as the victor.  Who’d have wanted to be Djokovic that day?  It must have seemed like the whole of the country was rooting for Murray.  Did he give up?  Hell no!  He made Murray dig deep as he saved three championship points resulting in the most exciting display of tennis, mental control and nerves of steel from both men.  

I was incredibly impressed with both players’ attitudes, behaviour and mental toughness as well as their sporting prowess.  I also admired the way Djokovic handled defeat.  He’d thrown everything he had at Murray and although clearly devastated to have lost, he was modest, generous and gracious during the post match interview. 

There are certain occasions when giving up is just not an option, or you’d never have learned the complicated, but fundamental skill of walking.  Did you wake up one day and just walk across the room?  I doubt it…you had to try…and fail…and try…and fail…and try…you get the idea.  You were encouraged, supported even cajoled into sticking with it. The truth is you can’t win all the time; you will fail at something, at least once and maybe more.  The trick is to use the experience as feedback not failure. 

Parents should beware the pitfalls of letting your children win all the time.  Learning to fail is as important as learning to win; they’re two sides of the same coin.  People react differently to winners and losers and you need to experience both and discover ways of dealing with the feelings each provoke.  Kipling expressed this so eloquently as “if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.”  For your own sanity you would be wise not to let success go to your head, or failures go to your heart.   

So…If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again or in the immortal lyrics of Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping…“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.”