I was recently reminded of a well known sport psychology video which recounts a delightful story about success. A nine year old girl had just completed her first ever 100m race coming in 8th place in 18 seconds. She rushes over to her coach in tears “I came last, I came last” she sobs. The coach kindly re-frames the girl’s result “You didn’t come last, you ran 18 seconds. That’s your best ever result. Your personal record.” The girl looks at her coach quizzically and her tears change to a surprised, heart warming smile.
Well done to the coach and athlete on such a positive re-frame, there are times that we could all do with a coach like this who can help to define and understand success.
What does success mean to YOU?
Imagine that it’s the end of the year and you’re looking back at the things that you’ve done during the year. What will success look like for you? What will it feel like? Everyone’s answer will be different for this but it’s well worth taking some time to think about it. What difference will your success make for you and for those around you?
Now spend some time looking at this in more detail. Pick two or three areas of that success to focus on. What are the things within that success that you can influence through your training and your commitment? Which areas does it make sense to devote more time and energy to? What will it take to do those things brilliantly? Is this success for you?
This brings us back to effective goal setting - by effective I mean far more than simply stating “I want to do X, Y or Z” What are you REALLY aiming for? Why is this important to you? What skills and strengths can you draw on to be able to do this? Where, and from whom, are you going to recruit help and support? What are the day to day and week to week processes you are going to put in place to help you work towards your goal? How are you going to monitor your progress?
You may have noticed by now that I’m asking far more questions here than I am giving answers!
This is because we are all different with individual definitions of success and personal goals. As a coach it’s my job to support and encourage you towards understanding and achieving your own success.
A few more questions for you to ask yourself……
WHERE DOES MY REWARD COME FROM?
IS MY RESULT DUE TO SOMETHING WITHIN MY CONTROL?
WAS I SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF SOMETHING I DID?
WAS I UNSUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF SOMETHING I DID DO OR BECAUSE OF SOMETHING I DIDN’T DO?
HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT MY RESULT?
DID I DO WHAT I SET OUT TO DO AT THIS TIME? DID I STICK TO MY PLAN?
The Oxford English Dictionary gives three definitions of “SUCCESS”:
The accomplishment of an aim
The attainment of wealth, fame or position
A thing or person that turns out well.
For the purposes of this article I like to think about success as being something personal which we can each measure for ourselves as individuals on our own terms. So, probably a mixture of numbers one and two above.
Perhaps one person has an aim, or goal, of completing a marathon, without concern for the time on the clock whilst another runner’s goal is to complete the marathon in a personal best time. Both runners complete the marathon so, essentially, both are “successful” and can celebrate their achievements. However, if the first runner starts to compare herself with the second, then she risks damaging her sense of success because she is measuring her own personal achievement on someone else’s terms.
If we look at riders, is the rider who fulfils her goal of completing a BE80 any less successful than the rider who fulfils HER goal of completing a 3* or 4* event? Both riders might be thrilled with their achievements on the day but, again, it’s not going to help the first rider if she compares her own results to the second rider.
If the BE80 rider is happy with her goal achievement at that level then all is good for her. If she wishes to reset her goal for the next level up or perhaps for being more accurate and have fewer penalties at this level, then she gives herself something to work towards and can enjoy more successes as she works towards her new goals.
There is no rule which says that any rider must compete and aim to move up the levels in competition. Many rider’s goals are to enjoy riding at home and to spend quality time with their horses. If they fulfil these personal goals then they, too, achieve success on their own terms.
The beauty of setting goals is that when they are achieved, one of the many rewards is that personal sense of “success” and by setting further goals, motivation is increased, new skills are learned and experience is gained. This can be applied to any area of life such as sport, business, professional life, education and hobbies.
The way I like to look at success is to encourage people to fully commit to working towards their goals and by fully committing they WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.