Why Athletes Keep Failing

Bruce Lee said it best when asked about failure. “Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

One of the essential lessons that athletes learn at SPMI is that there are only 2 outcomes to competing; winning and learning.The learning experience (a.k.a. Losing) is where athletes improve the most. It is when their newly learned approach to failure is fully accepted. The mistake that most athletes make is that when they fail they quickly try to forget every detail about the event; therefore, never discovering the hidden factors that will ultimately lead them to their desired destination.

Last year, one of my athlete's who competes internationally in martial arts faced a competitor who was ranked top 10 in the world. Needless to say, he did not achieve the result he wanted. In fact, he lost badly. However, at the end of the fight he approached the competitor calmly and asked him if he could tell him what he needed to work on and what he saw in him that was a weakness. A little less than 6 months later he had the opportunity to compete against the same fighter again. Not only did he win but his competitor barely scored against him! I later asked my athlete, "Would you have figured out what you needed to work on had you not have asked your competitor how you can be better?" His answer was, “No way! I would’ve assumed it was something completely different.”

For this SPMI athlete, he learned one of the most important lessons that many athletes still do not embrace. Losing is a learning experience for those who strive for the bigger picture.