How to Bounce Back from a Loss


You are a human, you make mistakes. There is a simple but effective way to deal with ALL losses, errors, mistakes, etc:

extract the lesson, commit the lesson to memory, forgive yourself, and move forward with confidence.

It is important that you do not repeat your mistakes, so you should note your shortcomings and downfalls. It is counterproductive to live in denial and suppression is almost never long term efficient. Recognize your flaw first and commit it to memory.

For example, you have a home meet and notice that a bunch of you friends from school are in the stands.  They came to watch you! Before the race you keep looking up to the stands to see if your friends are looking at you.  Your mind starts to wander … “I hope I do well, what if I don’t do well? What if they think I’m no good”? All of a sudden it’s race time and you’re on the starting line.  Your eyes go back and forth to the stands and back to the track. The gun sounds and you weren’t really ready. Now you are starting your race from behind and you never really got it back.  You lose a race you should have won. The mistake is done and over with, and now you have to live with the consequences whether you like it or not. You have choices. You could get angry about the mistake and loss, OR you could learn from your mistake.  You know now that you have to focus on the track even if your friends come watch. You have to stay in your space; in your lane, so to speak. Learn this lesson and never let it happen again.

After you recognize your mistake and commit it to memory you must, must, must forgive yourself. Successful people forgive themselves. Unsuccessful people do not.  Now I must draw a distinction here. Many successful people send the seemingly contradictory message- “never accept failure” or something similar to that. It is important to note that these people are probably referring to not denying reality as we spoke about above. They are also telling you never to quit and to always keep moving forward and striving to get better.

To be successful, you must put mistakes behind you so you can proceed forward toward your goals. You cannot preoccupy yourself with “the last time you tried”. Many athletes and teams have made this mistake of letting another team or individual, “beat them again.” Don’t let someone beat you twice. For example, an athlete from another team starts trash talking to you.  You expend a lot of mental energy prior to your event with thoughts like “I can’t believe he/she said this to me”.  You tell your teammates about it. Drama ensues. By the time your event comes around this player has gotten in your head and you let it affect you. At this point you are also mentally drained, affecting your physical energy level.  You underperform. Situations like this can snowball throughout the meet. Don’t let a mistake cause another mistake. Recover, and re-charge. Forgive yourself and move forward confidently.

Do not let a mistake or loss end your effort. Do not let it hurt your confidence. Some mistakes can feel like they really deflate us.  Pumping yourself back up is easier than you thought, if you find your error and seek to correct it next time.

Remember, successful people make more mistakes than unsuccessful people. Successful people go for it a lot. Unsuccessful people hide behind fear, excuses and past war stories.