I’ve failed a lot in the last year. I have failed to:
- Remain calm in the face of losing $10,000
- Publish a book
- Not use the word “umm” in a presentation at Stanford University
- Not break a bone
- the list goes on
As I’ve reviewed these and many other example it is interesting to see that there is one primary cause behind all failures: the outcome. When we are fixated on a predetermined outcome we’re likely to fail. As always, I’m going to use my current physical study (ballet) as exemplar of this concept, but this principle applies far and wide beyond the relatively narrow scope of motor learning.
First though, I’ll introduce my current nemesis, the pirouette:
Attached to an Outcome? Doomed to Fail.
In my daily ballet class there is a one student exemplifies fixation on an outcome. Every time she goes for a pirouette, she attempts a triple. There are many people in my class who can do triple pirouettes with ease, but this woman can’t. She can barely complete a double. And she is so fixated on getting a triple that she has stopped improving. You don’t need to understand the pirouettes for this process to sound familiar. We have all wanted an outcome different than our current reality so much that we tried to deny the current state of things. I see this denial among special needs parents, with athletes, and in companies who want a different reality. And I certainly recognize it in myself. It is understandable, and I’m excited to say that there are new opportunities available.
If there is one pivotal difference that I see between children who overcome their setbacks, athletes who make quick progress in fitness, or companies that tackle their challenges, it is mindset. Mindset is so rudimentary that most everyone’s reaction is “of course!” but when I coach or mentor, this is the single area where I see the greatest (and easiest!) lasting difference.