From Failure to Success :Using the sting of defeat to push you to your crowning moment

Although I live in New York, I am unabashedly a Miami Heat supporter and a fan of the Big 3. And so, it was with great joy that I watched the Heat dominated the Oklahoma Thunder and secured their second NBA title. I was especially happy for Lebron James who turned in a sterling performance to win his first ring and in the process silenced many of his critics. As the seconds ticked away in the final minutes of the game you could the disappointment of last year’s failure slowly dissipating and being replaced with jubilation as Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh celebrated with their teammates on the sidelines. In a post-game interview, Wade spoke of the “hurt, pain and embarrassment” they suffered after being crushed by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 finals and how that experience served to motivate them to do better this year.

Pain, heartache, difficulty, failure, setbacks, tragedy are perfectly normal. They are inevitable sign posts on the path to success. They are not suggestions that your goals should be abandoned. On the contrary, they speak directly to the meaningfulness of your pursuits. Everyone will have to deal with these sign posts at some point in their life. They cannot be bypassed, they must be contended with. The not so successful allow these bumps in the road to push them off track and define who they are as a person. The successful ones however, do not see failure as a permanent condition nor themselves as a failure. Instead they view their actions and the results of those actions as such and are thus able to use the experience to get better. As General Colin Powell once said, “Failure and mistakes aren’t fun but they are what help us learn to be great at whatever it is we are trying to achieve. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

How do you turn the tables?

How do you turn pain into pleasure, tragedy into joy, your most embarrassing moment into your crowning achievement?

I believe these five R’s will help you to push past the crushing disappointment and find success:

1. Recognition of what happened

Whether it is getting fired when you thought you were doing a stellar job, loosing and important contract or client without warning, the sudden breakup of a relationship or anything in between; the first thing you have to do is acknowledge what has taken place. Don’t get stuck wallowing in self-pity and denial. That is the worst thing you could do. Although the Heat were hurt and embarrassed by the loss in the 2011 finals, according to Head Coach Spoelstra they acknowledged their failure.  “We all decided – the players and the staff, the whole organization – that everybody needed to own it, for it to become just a part of the journey.”, he said.

2. Refocus/retool your vision

Experiencing failures and setbacks gives you the opportunity to learn from them and one of the best ways to do that is to really examine yourself as a person. This process helps you to gauge how prepared you were in the first place ,to take on these challenges and leads you to what needs to be done to better prepare you for the next go around.  LeBron spoke about how introspective he got after last year’s Finals defeat. He realized that in the 2010-2011 season he played with a lot of anger and like man who felt he had something to prove. This year he retooled his vision of himself. He saw himself as a player who loved and was passionate about the game and that joy and pleasure he felt helped him to raise his game and transcend the challenges he faced. It is important to note that the circumstances and the challenges you face will more than likely not get any easier therefore you must get better in order to conquer them.

3. Reevaluate your actions

During the off season James worked closely with Hall of Fame players in order to develop and improve certain aspects of his game. The results were evident not only in his approach to the game but also in his performance on the court. Coach Spoelstra also used the time to consult with college and professional coaches in both basketball and football using the new found knowledge to take advantage of the Heat’s athleticism. Even during the playoffs, those more knowledgeable than I am about the game, spoke about the nuanced changes the coach made between games to ensure success. You have to be courageous and wise enough to know that if what you are doing isn’t producing the desired results you must take different actions

4. Rely on your support system

Having a support system that you can call on during the difficult times is invaluable. In fact, it is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal to bounce back from a setback.  As they say “teamwork makes the dream work” so take advantage of those in your circle- family members, close friends, and others critical to your well-being and success.- and learn how they overcome failure. Like LeBron James and Coach Spoelstra did, seek out those people and get them on your team. The Heat players relied on each other and even the fans during the tough times. In order to overcome the failure, you too will need to rely on your teammates.

5. Renew and implement you plan

This is where the rubber meets the road. Everything that you have learnt about yourself through the process of self-evaluation and introspection, assessing your past actions and your commitment to work as part of a team, the advice and support that you garner from close friends and family, must come together in the form of a new plan which MUST be executed. You must give yourself a second chance to achieve your dreams.  You do that by taking decisive action.

Keep On Pushing!

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