Jay Shirley

I'm building an app to form great habits and achieve your dreams.

I hope you'll give it a try.

The Daily Practice

→ to Kindle

Handling Failure, or trying to.

Published: 11 Aug 2011

Today I failed at something important to me. It was very hard and left me brooding all day. I can say, perhaps even rightfully, that it wasn’t my fault. There were a lot of factors influencing events. They do not matter. I failed.

Failure to me isn’t external. It’s not what people think of me. It’s not how people feel when engaging with me. Those are byproducts of my internal desire to succeed. I hope my influence and reputation are positive but I act in a way that I see is the path to success.

That means failure is completely internalized. Even in a situation where nobody else notices, failure eats at me. This wasn’t the case today. People noticed. However, now that I have failed I want this feeling. I want to feel the gripping, sinking feeling and waning confidence. I will work harder. I will improve. I will try to remember how it feels right now.

This is the best motivation to fuel my desire to constantly improve. This reminds me why I improve. Failure is always present. Sometimes it’s even impossible to expect.

After much consideration, today’s failure was a matter of being caught off-guard and acting before I was ready. I wasn’t prepared but I acted anyway. Being prepared is what matters for success.

I think if I just politely asked for 2 minutes it would have been happily granted. In any scenario, I cannot think that an audience would be unwilling to donate 2 minutes. Those 2 minutes would have saved me. I didn’t ask for them. I didn’t get them. I failed because of it.

I watch soccer frequently. I am also frequently frustrated at the style of play in America (MLS) compared to Europe. The difference is in the US there is action without decision.

To succeed at the highest level, strategy is only one component. Being able to quickly identify what needs to be done is only a part. How to do it and what resources and preparation must be instinctively known. Tis is what separates great players from international stars.

They create time. They survey the field. They devise a course of action.

It’s so simple but in a moment of panic and under pressure that is the first thing to slip out of my brain. I react to the incoming stimulus and not to what is my victory condition.

Acting without a clear course of victory will likely lead to failure.

I know this, now I just need to remember it when it matters.