You can’t have success without disappointment. Sometimes major disappointment. Prepare for it.
“One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” – Henry Ward Beecher
If you’re like most athletes, you’ve come from parents who love you and want the best for you. (I know, I know, that’s not always true and I’ll cover that in the section on Parents and Parenting later.)
Many parents take that love and try to wrap their athlete in, what I call, “Love Bubble Wrap”. Part of their “love” equation is to keep you from being disappointed. Sure, they want you to succeed, but not at the expense of being disappointed. Can you blame them? Most parents I know would rather have their athlete be happy and smiling as opposed to being overly depressed after a loss.
Those same parents don’t want you to get your hopes up because they think that if something goes wrong you’ll get disappointed and possibly quit because your hopes were so high. Maybe “unrealistically” high.
Imagine climbing a ladder. If falling off the ladder means being disappointed then falling from a lower rung must be better than falling off from way up high.
If this is you, I’m encouraging you to realize what is happening and get your hopes up anyway. Let them soar as high as they will take you. Understand that up until now you’ve probably been protected too much. Let loose. Don’t be afraid to get your hopes up and to be disappointed. I want you to be disappointed every once in a while. Why? Because when you get disappointed and then overcome that disappointment you will become stronger and more able to withstand disappointment when it arises. In fact, you’ll be anticipating disappointment and how to get through it smoothly.
“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.” – Thomas Jefferson
You will be more committed and you will continue to work harder. If you never get your hopes up, and you never get disappointed, you will end up quitting when disappointment finally comes because it will come in a big, big way. You want to get used to the feeling of being disappointed but you don’t want to stay in that feeling. You want to feel the feeling, understand there is something for you to work on in order to get a better result, and then work to get better. It’s that simple.
When you get comfortable with being disappointed and then working through that feeling and improving yourself then the whole world opens up to you. The world is full of people who don’t want to be disappointed and they end up doing absolutely nothing with their life. They get started on something and along the way they just quit. They give up. It’s all too hard for them and that’s going to benefit you because you aren’t a quitter. You understand that disappointment is just a temporary feeling as you work towards becoming better and better.
My friend Ruben Gonzalez is the world’s only athlete to compete in Olympic Games spanning over forty YEARS. He also has the nickname of “Bulldog”. Why do people call him Bulldog? Because he won’t quit. While people around him get disappointed with their results and then give up, Ruben just powers on. He feels that feeling of disappointment every day and then keeps going. He’s like the Energizer Bunny crossed with a Bulldog. He keeps going and going and while people around him give up, he ends up winning just out of attrition!
Disappointment is really just a term for our refusal to look on the bright side.” – Richelle E. Goodrich
Take a moment to think of a time you were disappointed but managed to overcome it.
Now think…with what you know now, could you have moved through that disappointment more efficiently? Could you have gotten through the grief and on to acceptance faster? I bet you could.
As you look forward, don’t fear disappointment. Embrace it. Understand that it is part of the learning process. You wouldn’t feel disappointed if you didn’t want what you want to achieve. Many people never feel disappointed because they don’t go for anything. Not you! You’re going for it. So get your hopes up!
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Olympian Jonathan Edwards
Founder - The Athlete Breakthrough Blueprint
Olympian Jonathan Edwards is the Creator of "The Athlete Breakthrough Blueprint": The world's only mental performance training program for aspiring athletes with big dreams. Over nineteen years he has worked with athletes who have gone on to or competed in NCAA D1, D2, D3, MCLA D1 and D2, the Olympics, NHL, MLL, NLL, NFL, and others. Feel free to link to this article from your blog and share it with an athlete, parent, or coach who would benefit from these concepts.