I think we would all agree that having ambition in life is a good thing. When we have a goal that we are pursuing, we often, in most goals we chase, are watching some sort of scoreboard.
This desire to keep tabs on this scoreboard is not only normal, but it also provides us a report to see where we are in our progress.
Somedays, the scoreboard doesn’t reflect where we indeed are in our goal. The effort and drive may be there, but it’s not reflected on the scoreboard. This outcome can be a deflating feeling and one that leaves us struggling with where we are in our pursuits.
We are human. Validation and results hold a strong influence over us. When we can’t see progress or don’t like the score we see in front of us, we struggle to see beyond this and the disappointment that creeps in our minds.
How do we handle the days that the desired score is either not there or not what we want to see?
Paul Assaiante, Trinity College Men’s Head Squash Coach, has a beautiful line about the score, “The score is just one story. You can’t ignore it, but you should care more about how you’re playing and what the next point is going to be about and how you feel. You should play the same regardless of the score.”
Is the score just one story?
He’s right. Whatever metric you use as the score: money, salary, the car you drive, the house you live in, how many email subscribers you have, the wealth you have or don’t have — it’s all just a story.
A story for today. A story that is not complete, nor finished. It’s a story that has a past, which holds no real weight on how you perform in the future.
So here’s three things to think about instead of the story:
We Control The Process — Not The Results
Most of us have heard the phrase “The Process.” Especially if you watch many sports, it seems like the whole sports world is talking about it. Coaches and players alike talk about working their process to get better, and over time grow closer to the results and accomplishments that they are seeking.
But it’s true. All we can focus on is the next moment, task, call or play. Thinking about the last one or one that is in the future — won’t do us any good right now, at this moment.
In our endeavors, we may not like what the current score or results indicate, but the key is to continue working on our process, day in and day out. It takes discipline to ignore the score and to focus on the process. A discipline that we all need, in whatever we are pursuing.
Whether you’re coming off of a deal you won or a deal you lost — it doesn’t matter for the next deal. If you had a bad day yesterday and nothing seemed to go right — you still start anew today. The last project you worked on might have been some of your best work, but didn’t result in anything productive — this doesn’t mean you should give up or quit.
It’s so crucial to our success in the endeavors we pursue for us to see this. Our process will only benefit from the understanding of this part of the equation. It’s a lesson we must learn.
Eliminating results from our heads isn’t natural, but it’s the best way to move towards what we are genuinely seeking, which is ultimately the success.
Somedays We Won’t Win
Somedays the results — for whatever reason — won’t be there, no matter our efforts, which is why we can’t get caught up in the story of the day.
You took your prospective client through every cycle in the sales process, but they didn’t buy. You spent hours on a post that nobody read, despite you feeling great about it.
Somedays, we aren’t going to have the best of us in us, and we just aren’t going to be able to articulate the success that we had envisioned in our heads. These are tough days. Even harder to accept.
Nobody likes losing or not getting the results that we are after.
Yet, it happens — despite our best laid out plans, our best efforts, and our best actions. These days will happen more often than we are willing to realize or accept.
The lesson isn’t to accept losing or failure. The lesson is in understanding that failure will come — even when we put in our best effort — and we will not win every day in the pursuit of our goals. When we are pursuing great things, this is a guarantee.
NFL Hall of Fame Coach, three-time Superbowl champion, and legend Bill Walsh said, “Do expect defeat. It’s a given when the stakes are high.”
Whether your chasing success in entrepreneurship, writing, or athletics — somedays, the results we hope and desire for will not be there.
That’s ok. We will be ok.
Keep Going — Find Resilience
When the results aren’t there, and we don’t have the storyline we prefer and have chased — we must understand what comes next. Resilience. The ability to keep moving forward.
What do most people do when the story and results aren’t what they desire? Many people quit, get down, and allow the next day or task to be affected by this, which leads to more failure, self-pity, and yet another story, with less than desirable results. It’s a vicious cycle, which, if we aren’t careful, will continue to repeat longer than we would like.
By finding the resilience within us, we avoid this trap. We don’t want to get caught up in the endless circle of failed results, self-pity, and no growth.
We must fight this at every corner of a loss. This resilience is vital to our future, and even though at the moment we can’t feel it or understand it, we must fight through it.
Don’t allow the story of today to decide where you will be tomorrow. It’s just a story, and it doesn’t need to hold any more weight than you allow it to. More importantly, despite the disappointment, we must understand that the story of today does not have to control the story of tomorrow, or even more so, the process of tomorrow.
Focus on your process and handling defeat with persistence and resilience. The rest will take care of itself. As Bill Walsh once said, “There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success. It all comes down to intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chance of prevailing. When you do that, the score will take care of itself.”