No one enjoys failure, but everyone will experience it. One truth of life is that we will all experience failure, hardship or defeat at some time in our lives.
There are only two ways we lose.
Either You Were Beat or You Let Them Win
A true leader knows this. You should not suffer over this truth or be troubled by it. Accept it and keep moving forward.
Feel good when you’ve prepared yourself (and you are the only one that really knows) and know that you have prepared yourself to perform at your own particular level of competency. It may be that the other fella’s particular level of competency is just better than yours, and there is nothing to be ashamed about in that. But there is something to be ashamed about when you know you did not prepare yourself properly when you had the opportunity” – Coach John Wooden
You Were Beat
Competition should always be welcomed. True competition is not a battle of egos, but rather of equal rivals on fair grounds.
As Coach Wooden said above, there is nothing to be ashamed about when you have prepared yourself properly and executed to the best of your abilities. When you are beat in circumstances like these, there is nothing to feel embarrassed or guilty about. Simply turn to your opponent and shake their hand. Thank them for the opportunity to show off your best, and to have given the greatest competition you could offer.
Good sportsmanship is leadership at its finest.
The most powerful discipline the leader should build is self-reflection. You must be regularly analyzing and adjusting your tactics and strategies as you navigate life. Without looking back you may never know what has been successful and what hasn’t. You may find that you have been wasting time and effort on something when you could better redirect your energy elsewhere. You may find that what you thought was successful is actually limiting.
Most importantly: self-reflection leads to self-mastery.
Know Thyself” – Socrates
Beginning a habit of self-reflection will help you understand why you made decisions, what lead you to those decisions, and if you reached your intended outcome.
This will also help you to dig deeper and discover your own principles, morals and virtues.
Did you make that decision because it was not in line with your principles? Or was it because you reacted out of undisciplined emotions that you let out of your control?
Self-reflection is a discipline that can only be done by you. Only you know the true answers, everyone else can only speculate. No one else can do this for you. This is a leader’s discipline.
When you are beat, here are a few questions to start your habit of self-reflection:
- Are you proud of your showing?
- Did you improve through competition?
- Are you a better person because of it? (If so how, if not, why?)
- What did you learn?
- How will you use this knowledge moving forward?
- What will you change to ensure your success next time?
You Let Them Win
This is tough to admit – that you were not as prepared as you should have been, and you failed yourself. This is what happens when you take too many “rest days”, go to bed early, sleep in late, and fail to get after it. You did not prepare yourself to take advantage of the opportunity and execute when the moment came. You missed your chance. Now you wait.
Take ownership of the factors you can control.
This means you must pay the price of preparation. This is where discipline, self-reliance and leadership are made. The hard behind the scenes work that no one will ever give you credit for (and that you should never expect any credit for) is what makes the leader.
When you do achieve that goal (whether it be a promotion, a test grade, those ten pounds you lost, whatever…) some people will speculate about the amount of effort you put in, but you will be the only one who really knows. Enjoy it. Revel in your mind about it. You earned it. That is the portion of sacrifice and execution that only to deserve to enjoy.
Take ownership of your failure.
Ego is the number one enemy of success. When it comes to tests, the ego assumes you already have the knowledge, rather than the humility to study. Ego is not a trait of leadership, humility is. Taking ownership of failures is the first step towards becoming a leader.
Whatever your shortcoming, find the area where you failed yourself. Adjust accordingly and get back in the game.
Learn from the past. Move eagerly into the future. Live in the present. Learn yourself. Lead.
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