Failure, beyond your control.
I haven’t blogged in a while, its been a busy time. I believe we can learn leadership lessons in just about everything we do in life, especially challenges we face while working towards a goal. Failure is hard for a leader to contend with. We would like to believe that every goal we set will result in success. Yes we will face challenges, yes there will be obstacles but ultimately we will succeed. When failure comes at times we act as if we are shocked that we could fail. The question is not will we fail, its when will we fail? Our failures should not devastate us but teach and train us.
When I begin to train for a marathon, I had some definite thoughts about how I would succeed, and when. I did have some natural concerns. I realized I’ve never run this far, at that point I’d never run 10 miles, but definitely not 26.2. I had thoughts that maybe it would be to much for me, just not have the resolve to finish,not be disciplined to push back the pain, and had I been stumped by those things I would have said I failed because I couldn’t do it and gave up, but what do you do when you have no control of the reason for failure.
I had been training, and we reached the 15 mile mark, it was hard my body wanted to stop but I kept going, I pressed through, my friend Andrew pulled me through. At the end of the run however I got extremely sick. Not just normal, felt like I had a bad flue, I won’t go into the details too graphic, but it was bad. I marked it off as a single event and kept training. I made some adjustments to help the sensitivity of my stomach and kept going. When the next long run came I think we ran 13 and I felt pretty good till the end and then it happened again. If I ran up to 10 or 11 I would be fine but every time I would get in that 12-15 range it would happen again. The marathon date we were shooting for was getting closer and closer and we were not able to get more long runs in so we had to wait and we missed the mark.
I was very upset, I thought I could deal better with just not being able to cut it rather than being stopped by something I couldn’t control. So what do you do when you fail, because of something that’s not your fault, or out of your control.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned.
1. You are only a failure if you give up entirely.
I am going to a sports doctor after first of the year see why my body is reacting this way and what I can do about it.
2. Reset the goal, missing one goal is not the end of the world.
I said I was going to be in the best shape of my life before I turned 40, well 40 has come and gone, and I didn’t make the marathon, however, I’ve never been able to run 15 miles before in my life.
3. Celebrate the accomplishments on the way to the goal.
Even though I didn’t reach the marathon yet I have overcome weight barriers, fear barriers, and I can run over 10 miles consistently.
4. Be a learner.
Serious goals require you to learn about what it takes to reach them, and knowledge goes a long way towards success. Avoiding the hard questions only paralyzes you from future success.
5. Taking more time is not a crime.
Its funny the tricks that time plays on our minds. Sometimes we just need more time. Its ok to take it. How many people have not hit a goal in the time they thought they should and just quit all together, think of how ridiculous that is. What shame is there in pushing the time back in order to succeed.
6. If there is something you can do, do it, if there’s not move on and don’t obsess.
Failure can put your entire life on hold if you obsess over it. I read an article on Michael Jordan once and he said one reason players aren’t well rounded is because they obsess over failures. If they make a mistake on the offensive end then they are thinking about it on defensive end and make another. He said, “if I make a mistake, I say to myself, I won’t do that again, and then I forget about it.”. Do what you can, then move on.
So I am continuing to run and train, I am gaining knowledge about my situation, and I am taking the time and setting a new goal.
Hope this helps, failure is only final if you give up, its just the beginning if it becomes your teacher.