The Resiliency Needed For Failure

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Tiger Woods winning the Masters a couple of weeks ago. Winning at the Masters Tournament was something Tiger hadn’t done in fourteen years.

So, maybe it’s old news, but I find myself thinking about it again and again.

I keep thinking about what it takes to keep pursuing a goal and keep working towards lofty achievement—for fourteen years.  How do you keep going, how do you have the resiliency and tenacity and drive to press doggedly on, when all the evidence around you suggests that you’re just wasting your time?

It’s kind of amazing when you think about it.  I have decided that despite the title and the green jacket Tiger received after the tournament, the mental fortitude he displayed over the course those years is the real accomplishment.   

Because, in face of so much public failure and personal disappointment, Tiger just kept trying.  After years of criticism and naysaying, questionable extra-curricular activities, countless surgeries, new swing mechanics and coaches, and even losing his way a few times, he kept fighting and trying and striving to be on top again—to be a champion.

All of us face challenges and setbacks, but how many of keep going?  How many of us know how to harness the power of our minds to persist even after we fail? Can we keep going and for how long?  Through the month? Through the quarter?  Through the year?  For fourteen years?   

And how many of our kids have acquired this skill as well?

Being able to fail and then to acquire and exercise the resiliency to keep trying anyway is a skill that will serve anyone who acquires it, whether we are full-grown adults or teenagers on the cusp of adulthood.

Because, in life failure is inevitable.  But, as Tiger has demonstrated, quitting is not.

For everyone of us, there will come a moment when our minds will try to talk us out of continuing in the face of failure.  It will offer us thoughts like:

  • “we need to be reasonable”
  • “we need to accept reality and just face the facts”
  • “maybe this just isn’t our thing”
  • “our best might already be behind us”
  • “this clearly isn’t working”
  • “I’m wasting my time and effort”
  • “there’s got to be an easier way”
  • “this is just getting ridiculous”

But what if none of that is true?  What if the whole key to our personal success is that we just have to fail for fourteen years?  What if that is the exact way that we succeed?  If we don’t develop the mental fortitude to ignore the “reasonable” thoughts of our own minds, we might give up early and miss the big win.   

One of the greatest skills we can ever teach our children is to continue forward even in the face of failure.  If we’re honest, we are all hoping that our children won’t experience any failure at all.  We’re hoping that their lives will be magical and perfect and continuously successful.  Sometimes in holding on to this hope, we don’t adequately prepare our children for what to do after they face a setback.  (An inevitable setback, I might add.)

The skills required to be resilient in the face of adversity and failure are the principles and techniques that we teach in our online course, Own It!  We teach teens that they are the “owners” of what happens to them.  When they fail, they get to decide if they will own that failure, learn from it, and keep trying—or if they will succumb to victimhood, assume they are powerless or broken, and give up.  .

What we believe about ourselves is powerful.  When we believe that we direct our own lives and we have a say in our outcomes (being an owner), then we continue to show up again and again, no matter how long it takes to succeed..

On the other hand, when we believe that we are at the effect of the world around us, that we never get what we want, or we can’t achieve great things, we look at all the evidence of our failures and setbacks and we give up.   

Teaching our children that these two mindsets are optional and available and a CHOICE for every one of us can make a monumental difference in the outcomes of their entire lives.   

Tiger Woods showed up and swung his clubs swing after swing after swing, not because he was guaranteed a win, but because even in the face of massive failure, he believed he had a chance to succeed.As he said after the tournament, “Well, you never give up. That’s a given. You always fight. Just giving up’s never in the equation…just keep fighting. That’s just part of the deal. We wake up every morning, and there’s always challenges in front of us, and keep fighting and keep getting through.”

This is the kind of resiliency we want to build in ourselves and in our children.  This is the kind of resiliency that allows us to achieve anything we want—even if it takes fourteen years to do it.   

If you want to help your teenager understand the power of mental toughness and gain the resiliency to persist in any area of their lives, enroll them in Own It! today.  Not only will they gain the skills they need to succeed, they will gain the skills they need when they fail.  And that will make all the difference in the world.

Just ask Tiger.

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