The freedom to lose
Have you ever been afraid to lose or fail at something?
In the end that fear may have prevented you from actually starting. For many people we inadvertently shelter our children from the potential of losing. For instance, we may say, “Don’t do that, you may get hurt,” referring to participation in a sports team. Wise advice? Maybe not.
I have experienced more than a few opportunities that I bowed away from because I felt I couldn’t do well. In reality I was preventing myself from learning how to succeed.
As a young parent with inquisitive children I recall talking to them about free-enterprise. Talking about the fact that a country that embraces free enterprise allows you not only to succeed, but also to fail. More protected states at the time did not embrace free enterprise and in fact, prevented you theoretically from failing as well as succeeding.
The same is true in sports as it is in business. We are living that example right now. The eternal debate that comes around every couple of years with the Olympics is whether we should put pressure on our athletes to succeed? Sure we should. We are investing money in their success both at the corporate level and at the government level. But rest assured the pressure we put on those athletes will never exceed the pressure they put on themselves to perform. There are a few occasions when I have sat on the hood of my car, choked, tears in my eyes wondering why I crashed or why I had the misfortune to break down in a race.
Part of their training during their first few Olympic experiences is to learn to embrace failure and analyze it. Losing is not a bad thing, what you do with the experience of losing determines your success or failure from there.
I read an intriguing article about former F1 driver Robert Kubica last week. Kubica has always had a passion for rally driving but this year he has committed to a world rally championship program. The press however, has been criticizing him for going off the road in almost every rally and not finishing. Their suggestion was to slow down. Not unlike the parent that suggests we don’t want to get hurt.
Kubica’s response was fascinating. “I am not supposed to slow down. I learn nothing from driving slowly. You cannot learn to drive fast by driving slowly.” He added that in order to drive quickly he must experience driving quickly and all the challenges that come with that. You see, tire technology today is designed to “turn on” at certain temperatures that come from driving with a certain amount of aggression. Kubica’s theory that he has to explore the fringes of his limits to get better is absolutely correct.
So it is with business, personal development, sports etc. To improve we need to leave that comfort zone behind and explore the fringes of our personal, athletic and business abilities.
We all have the freedom to fail but how many of us truly embrace that opportunity. Only a small handful in reality but that fringe is truly where I have experienced living if only for brief moments in time.
Every Olympic athlete striving to win a medal for themselves and Canada is living on that edge. Let's celebrate their accomplishments both wins and losses because they are well aware of the need to embrace the loss and learn from it. Go Canada Go!
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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
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