Q: What’s the right response when you come tantalizingly close to success but fail to achieve your goal? How hard is it to recover from heartbreaking setbacks like the ones the Washington Redskins have endured in recent weeks? How often have you experienced reversals that tested your own spirit?
The lowdown on losin’ it
Well, let’s be honest: The most common response to failure when you’ve just missed your goal by an inch is to freak out, followed shortly by whining and complaining that life is not fair. (There may be profanity involved.) While this might not be the best response, it is the common one, based on the many anonymous answers I’ve heard to that question.
In the course of my company’s research, we’ve found that very successful, driven people or people who care deeply about something have a tendency to overreact. (Just read the comments on my post about Tiger Woods titled “Paying for fame.”) It seems to be a rare (and kind of dull) group of people who can consistently separate the data from the drama and react in what people keep telling us is an appropriate manner.
If you are a Redskins fan, the appropriate response is to put your foot through your television! I know how you feel: I’m a Houston Texans fan (as in we’ve never had a winning season and we’re the first team in history to do so with a No. 3-ranked offense two years in a row). It’s hard to recover from heartbreaking setbacks; but let me just say that if a football team tops your list of disappointments, then your life must be fantastic!
I have had my share of personal setbacks; in fact, back in high school, football was involved. I once threw eight interceptions in one game. My dad said it had to be a record. (Thanks, Dad!) If I had died sometime during my junior high football days, they would have built a statue of me in front of the school. Unfortunately, I lived just long enough to suck!
That high school football experience became a strong learning point, though. I was well liked by my teammates and learned that if your relationships are strong enough, you can survive the blame, even if your response to failure is, um… a failure.