What is success and how is measured?
What does it mean to fail or succeed?
Are failure and success based on end results or is it process oriented?
These are important questions to consider as athletes, coaches, sports parents, and performance psychology professionals.
I was freshman in High School when I first heard about the opportunity to play basketball for a college in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my home in Boras, Sweden.
At the time the idea felt so out of reach and so big that I did not want to dream about it. Fast-forwarding a few years, I was in my second year of college basketball at an excellent university in Florida.
I now realize that the reason I did not dare to imagine achieving such a goal was because I was scared of failing. I believed that by setting such a goal I would only be setting myself up for failure so I avoided it. Fear of failure is one of the most common mental barriers experienced by athletes and performers in all sports – levels of performance, and across performance domains.
I was one of those athletes. Maybe you are too. If you’re a sports parent your son or daughter may be struggle with the fear of failure. If you’re a coach there may be one or several players on your team unable to reach their full potential because the fear of failure is limiting their ability to achieve peak performance.
When I achieved my goal of competing in college I was forced to step outside my comfort zone and face that fear. At first, I found that many of the challenges and obstacles of successfully competing at this level were far bigger than I every experienced or accomplished throughout my athletic career. In order to perform at a high level I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone and overcome my fears in order to succeed. Doing so required that I put things in perspective and change my mental approach to the game.
I kept on putting myself in situations that were so challenging and focused on the process rather than worrying about the end results. I replace the unrealistic expectations and demands I placed on my performance with process goals – manageable objectives that help athletes focus on what they need to due in the present moment to succeed.
Again, process goals are manageable objectives that are easily obtained and help athletes focus on what they need to do in the present moment to succeed. Each time completed an objective my mindset began to change. I felt more and more confident , and motivate, which enhanced my performance. The mindset of an athlete hungry for a challenge is a winning mindset. It is the mindset of success as opposed to a mindset driven by the fear of failing.
Failure and success are a matter of perspective and opinion. Each can be measured in a number of different ways.
At Sport Psychology Today and Mental Edge Athletics athletes learn that success is not result oriented and cannot be measured through through wins, losses or titles. Success can only be measured by the number of challenges you overcome in pursuit of your goals.
Even though our team won the conference tournament three out of four times during my college career. The path we took to get their and the challenges we overcame each year – learning, gaining experience, and connecting with one another holds the most value.
My Mental Training Tips
When you place unrealistically high expectations and demand on your performance and to much value on the final score and end results you are only setting yourself up for failure. That type of perfectionist mindset will often burn a person out. In the pursuit of success I was on that very path. After my second year of college, I was tired of basketball and I dreaded going to practice, but I was able to persevere and focus on the present when I unconsciously found my WHY. My WHY came to represent the reason I was living and playing the game of basketball which I so dearly love.
I discovered my WHY the hard way but it does not always have to be like that. A WHY is supposed to have a deeper meaning and sometimes it can take a long time to discover. However, the important thing is to keep learning about yourself, reading relevant books to your personal goals in life, learning from people who inspire you, eliminating the time-wasters, implementing a positive and healthy mindset and the rest will sort itself out after that. My WHY became the #1 strategy and to this day it helps me get through obstacles in life, discover your WHY before it is too late by answering these questions:
- What/who makes you come alive?
- Why do you believe that you exist?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What inspires you to complete your tasks better?
- What is your interior strength?
- What is your existing purpose?
- What are your greatest accomplishments?
- What/who drives you to get through challenges?
- What/who makes you want to wake up every morning?