Years ago, I worked in the film industry out in LA on all types of productions: TV commercials, films, music videos, and well, if I may be blunt about my age: lots of pre-internet content. And ever since, I tell people that the best and most important stuff I ever learned was how NOT to produce a TV show or film or music video.
Yeah, seriously. Often there’s more lessons to be learned in “down days” than in ones that go smoothly. I don’t dare call failing to meet your goals or complete a task (or a TV show) “failure” because unless you’re a rusty old pipe, there’s always something to take away; something to learn and tuck away. A lesson if you will.
That said, while we might congratulate ourselves immediately after “succeeding” at something, we often don’t think much about achieving our daily goals. We just think: I knew I could. Or: That was easy. And we move on.
But when we’re faced with those inevitable days where we can’t get that last rep (or set!), or the end of the block seems a million miles away on your run, or you have no idea what happened in that afternoon meeting because you were so groggy, we often think, “Uh oh! I’m a rusty old pipe! I failed. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
And that’s usually when and why we give up our resolutions or lose our drive. We think we’ve failed. But remember: the greatest hitters in baseball history “failed” nearly seven out of ten times and still made it into the Hall of Fame. Only twenty (20!) players in well over 100 years of pro baseball have hit .400 or better in a season — meaning they got a hit at least 4 out of every 10 times at bat. Think about it. They “failed” nearly 60% of the time… and still made it to the Hall of Fame.
Okay, that’s certainly relatively speaking. If you don’t complete your job tasks 60% of the time at work, well, you might not be long for the job (though this begs the question in the first place of whether it’s the right job for you or whether it’s making you happy, or at least contributing something to your knowledge base). But I think the point gets across. Nobody’s perfect. So if you can acknowledge that you’ll be much better and always be able to find something to take away that can improve you moving forward.
I love to run. I like to lace up the shoes and get out into nature. But, for the past few years I’ve “failed” to meet most (if not all) of my exercise and competition goals. And I’ve had lots of down days in the process. But I have three-year-old twins. Yes, twins. And my wife has been going through some health issues. So most days, I “fail” to get any exercise. And I just turned 50. And yeah, I like to enjoy some wine or a beer with my dinner. And well, I’m nowhere near the “athlete” I was a decade or two ago (though don’t tell my brain that!).But every day I try to take something away from where I am. Can I work a few minutes on my flexibility? Did I eat a healthy lunch and drink enough water? Many of these down days are actually lessons I can use on my ‘good’ days. I feel where I’m sore or where my muscles are tight. And thus, instead of saying “ugh, I’m an old mess” I say “okay, that’s something to work on for when I can get outside next time.” I’ll make a mental note to ‘stretch left calf’ or ‘work out the kink in neck’ and from there, I can try to have a positive mental attitude for my next run or workout session… or just for chasing the twins down the street on their bikes!
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