I was reading a book the other day and this line hit me like a steam train ‘failure cannot cope with persistence’.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your health and fitness or life goals, lock this saying into your memory and whenever you have a setback bring it to the front of your mind.
We all fail, in fact I believe that we have mini failures every day from forgetting to put out the bins to missing a rep in the gym. If we look at them as failures, then that’s what they are. If we look at them as an opportunity to learn and develop then these failures take on a whole new light. If we persistently work on our opportunity, then we have no room for failure.
Let’s take a very common ‘failure’; missing out on the gym. If you think you failed by not going to the gym or even worse you just don’t care, then you will never learn. Don’t look for the reasons why you couldn’t, instead look for the solutions for how you can the next time. If you feel you are too tired to go to the gym after a day’s work, then consider working out in the morning or sneaking in a quick gym session on your lunch break. If you are unmotivated to go to the gym on your own, then find a gym buddy or join a workout class. If you persist in finding solutions rather than looking for problems, then you have every chance of reaching your health and fitness goals.
The opposite can also be said, if you insist on always looking for problems or reason to blame, then you are going to persistently fail. Your mind is one of the strongest muscles you can train and you don’t need a gym. A simple change of mindset will make all the difference.
I was recently involved in a persistence result when the under 17 Northern Ireland football team qualified for the next round of the European championships. This was not a result of one or two training camps with the boys. I was very lucky to be part of most of these boys’ development from the age of 13. They are good footballers but not the most talented I have coached. The big thing they had going for them was their persistence. Their persistence to win, be better footballers and even better people.
Compare them to the group of players we had last year in the under 17s who always made excuses.
It seemed that it was never their fault and they never took any ownership, this was on and off the field. As a coach I felt that I always had to have everything set out for last year’s group step by step and if I didn’t, then it wouldn’t be done.
On the other hand, with this year’s group I was able to hand them more ownership in their choices in terms of diet, recovery, rest and hydration. I knew that they were persistent athletes who always wanted to better themselves. Don’t get me wrong they were no angels and like everyone else they made mistakes but they stood up, accepted them and were willing to learn from myself and the other staff.
As a staff we were also persistent and wanting to learn from the disappointment of last year’s competition. It would have been easy to say that it was the players’ fault and move on, but we knew we could also improve.
Before we travelled home, we met up as a team and discussed what each of us could improve on.
We went about setting a plan in place and were always willing to review and improve.
Even after this year’s competition, we haven’t rested on our laurels. We still identified areas which we can improve and by being persistent then hopefully we will keep ‘old man failure’ at bay for another while.