By Jason Jaksetic
News flash: Spartans fail all the time.
If you are pushing your limits, failure is inevitable. After all, you only find the line that marks your true capabilities by falling short of it time and time again.
That’s just how it works. It’s not a conspiracy.
It’s not hard to understand, either, but it’s tough to practice. Why?
Failure hurts. It hurts when you miss that spear throw after practicing for weeks and then watching your competition run by you. It hurts when you fail to make it to that important meeting and miss a huge opportunity. It hurts when that relationship you invested so much in doesn’t work out. It hurts when you let someone down, including yourself.
It hurts so much it might cause one to not try anymore. To give up. To sit comfortably at home, doing nothing, and therefore failing at nothing.
But this is not what Spartans do. At least, they better not.
This article assumes you fail because it assumes you are driven to push yourself further and farther.
This article is here to help you pick yourself up and continue on your journey. Here are four things to remember when you fail at something.
You failed at something. You are not a failure.
This is easy to forget. Particularly if you are predisposed to cognitive biases such as catastrophizing and black and white thinking.
It’s so easy and extremely human to take one isolated event of failure at a specific point in time regarding a particular thing, and deriving a false conclusion that you as a complex human, one living an entire lifetime, are a complete and utter failure as a person.
So you missed an important appointment? Do you find yourself berating yourself as being a total screw-up for the next hour? The next day? Week? Does it then distract you an make you make more mistakes? (More on this in a bit.)
This negative thinking might be wired into your habits. The thoughts could be automatic at this point. It’s human.
The only way to fix this is to fight it. You need to reaffirm that you failed at a thing, not as a person.
Try and imagine what you would tell a friend who, despite their best efforts, failed at something they tried to do. Would you tell them, “wow, you are an utter failure as a person”?
So try and give yourself the same thought and considerate treatment. You failed at something, you are not a failure.
You need to focus, especially when you have been knocked down.
If you failed an obstacle and are stuck doing 30 burpees, you are only going to lose more time getting all worked up and distraught while you do what you still have to do.
Winners get right back to trying to win. They acknowledge the failure. They are realists. But they do not to dwell on it. They focus on how they need to adjust their actions to rectify the situation and come back stronger.
If you fall into a self-blame and self-loathing cycle you are only going to handicap your comeback. And that’s a weight-vest you surely don’t want to have to wear while making up ground.
When you see someone at the top you are seeing their successful moment. You are not seeing the constant failures and disappointments that lead them there.
Look at any famous person and you’ll find a lifetime of defeats, bankruptcies and losses that predated their moment on the podium.
Most often someone is at the top because they were able to previously hit rock bottom and dig in and push themselves upward with renewed force.
This is tough to see in the world of social media where we tailor our timelines to feature our successes. Multiply this by our 5000 “friends” who are hyping up their wins and remaining silent on their losses, and you get some real distorted perceptions of reality.
Don’t let this happen. Read some biographies of people you admire. I promise you will find miserable and heartbreaking failure leading up to their greatest accomplishments
Have you ever done burpees till failure? It’s part of a good workout plan sometimes. You can’t find out how many you can do until you try to do as many as you can in a certain amount of time. At a certain point, you try to do more, but you fail.
It’s just how it works. It’s simple.
Don’t forget that it’s part of your strategy. Exercising to failure breaks you down so that you can heal and come back stronger. Your body and mind will rebound. And the way progressive overload works is to make you come back stronger after this rebound.
You need to recalibrate your thinking to understand that a failure, with all its hurt and heartbreak, is part of the path you must suffer along to get to the finish you dream of.
Ultimately, failure is something you have to practice. It never stops hurting. But over time, you can learn to bear the inevitable failures with poise and grace on the way to finally reaching your goals.
Originally published at life.spartan.com