Paddy Upton, performance director of the Proteas, explains how to deal with failure and how to use it start winning
Feel the failure
Avoid acting out or displaying disappointment, rather sit quietly and just absorb what it feels like. Just by acknowledging the feeling and paying attention to where it is in your body, it’ll subside – you don’t have to “do” anything about it. Gary Kirsten never displays negative body language when a player makes an error. Masking disappointment when the chips are down is a very important leadership trait.
Accept your loss
Losing or failing happens to anyone who tries, so welcome to the human race. All that losing means is that you lost – that’s it. Rather than seeking meaning, seek to accept that you failed or lost. It does not mean you have to give up caring, but you do need to accept the result.
Ask yourself how bad the failure really is? What will the failure mean this time next year, or when you look back on it in five year’s time? Will it be engraved on your tombstone or mentioned at your funeral? In the context of your career, you’ve failed before and you’ll fail again.
One of the major causes of depression is an over-focus on one’s self, while a major source of contentment is doing something positive for someone else. Support others – someone who may have had a worse day than you, or the guy next to you who is being too hard on himself.
Preparation is everything. Not many may know the feeling, but most can at least imagine how it must feel to go into an exam fully prepared. If you’re serious about wanting to succeed, then you can’t afford to cut corners on your prep work, whatever your game. Being prepared is the first step towards achieving better results.
Reflect on your performance
Examine all the important things you did well. Your disappointment may prevent seeing the positive, so force yourself to look harder than usual. Then ask, “If I had to do it all over again, what would I do differently?’ Focusing on the solution builds confidence and promotes learning.
Commit to action
Decide on at least one way that you can improve your preparation and at least one thing that you’ll do differently next time when a similar situation arises. Write them down and tell someone. If you decide to run a half marathon, there is a difference between thinking it for yourself versus telling your friends. No one makes it to the top without lots of help from others.