The question I ask myself after a crippling failure





Guess how many games we won my first year coaching lacrosse?

Hint: There are 12 games in a season.


We went 1-11 my first year. It wasn’t really anybody’s fault, though as the coach it was my job to take responsibility. We had a tiny team both in size and numbers, and many of our players had never picked up a stick before the season. Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE losing. I HATE IT. I’ve gotten better at hiding it as I’ve matured but even losing a “friendly” game of Super Smash or FIFA sends me into an internal rage. This failure was easier to swallow, one – because in team games you know there are factors outside of your control, and two – I already knew that next year we were going to be better.

We are in blue. Currently losing 12-2

When I fail I always give myself a certain amount of time to get carried away with my emotions. The amount of time I give myself to ride my emotional wave depends on a number of situations — the scale of failure and the situation being the most important. For example, making a bad coaching decision (calling a bad play, being in the wrong defense) in the middle of a lacrosse game is a minor failure that I need to get over especially quickly because the situation doesn’t allow much time for reflection and emotion. My players and assistant coaches are looking at me as the standard and I can’t be crying on the sidelines getting emotional during this crucial period, no matter how much getting scored on sucks.

If on the other hand, I fail at starting a business that I had poured my heart and soul into for 6 months, I allow myself a week or two of emotion and reflection before I get back on the horse. To me, that emotion is important because it lets you know that you’re alive and that you care about something. Emotion only only becomes a problem when you can’t step outside yourself. If you lose self-awareness and become overwhelmed with that fear and emotion for a long period of time, it can start to be debilitating.

To deal with – and get over failure, there is 1 simple question I ask myself when it seems like the world is crumbling around my feet.

“What can I learn from this?”

Asking this question immediately forces you to move on from the emotion of the event and invites you to pursue corrective action. Again, I allow myself to ride the emotion for a little while, but I always try to arrive at this question as quickly as possible.

It is a truth of life that O = E + R. The outcome equals the event plus or minus your reaction to that event. If you keep this formula in mind, you start to understand that no matter how negative an event is, a massive positive reaction to it can make the outcome at least neutral, and sometimes even positive.

Inversely, a negative attitude and reaction can cause a positive event to have a negative outcome.

It’s very hard to train your mind to ask yourself this question whenever you are presented with failure. I still screw up sometimes and spend much more time in an emotional state than I should. I encourage you to try making this a habit. And if you fail at that? Just ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?”

Happy Friday everybody.


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