Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
In the workplace and at home, we often worry about how things are going to turn out. If we imagine the worse, or even less than the ideal outcome, we sometimes let that determine whether we try at all. Fear of failure is the tremendously powerful enemy of growth and change.
Playing golf I’m often reminded of how difficult it is to consistently control outcomes, despite expert planning and execution. For example, on a recent outing on hole #10, I hit a beautiful drive. On #11, I performed the same ritual, but the results were not the same – which is what I had expected. Instead of feeling disappointed, I took a breath, moved to where my ball landed and figured out what to do next. The more I relaxed and accepted what was, the better able I was to adjust and adapt as I went, always working to make the next shot a really good one.
Golf, like life, is one experiment after another. You do all you can to consistently produce the desired results, but ultimately, you have to accept the immediate outcome, think through your next move, prepare and execute well and keep moving toward your goal. The more you practice this, you’ll get better and more consistently achieve your goal, but more importantly, you’ll exercise your brain’s ability to respond constructively to disappointing outcomes.
That’s how the pro’s do it. Your favorite athletes understand that one bad shot, pitch, catch, volley or take down gives way to another opportunity to get it right. Sports isn’t the only area to which this lesson applies.
A disappointment at work isn’t a door slammed shut. It is, rather, an opportunity to demonstrate emotional intelligence, resilience, willingness to learn from mistakes and ability to take risks and recover if things don’t turn out exactly as planned. In love, a disappointing relationship provides much-needed insight into what a good relationship needs to look like for you.
The ability to recognize and recover is something we all have within us. The difference is in knowing that truth and putting into play in your life.