Last month we began a four-part series about resiliency. Defined as the ability to bounce back after a mistake, mishap, or missed opportunity - and the ability to turn setbacks into comebacks - resiliency is considered the most important mental factor in determining your success because it’s what allows you to form will power, optimism, and self-belief (all mandatory ingredients for performing at your best). Last month’s tip discussed the importance of only focusing on things that you can control or influence. This month’s tip is just as important: the ownership of failure and success.
Since resilient riders always attribute their performance to things they can control or influence (their concentration vs. the judge, for example), they also realize that this means their success (or lack of it) is never someone else’s responsibility. They own all parts of their ride, the good and the bad. Missed opportunities become their learning opportunities, and past struggles become their future strengths.
Additionally, resilient riders will always attribute a poor performance to something they did - or to the great performance of an opponent - rather than to the idea that they’re simply weak, bad, or not-good-enough. For example, when a resilient rider loses a competition you’ll likely hear them say something like, “Today my opponent rode an exceptional course,” or, “Today I could’ve listened to my horse a little more and made better choices,” rather than, “I’m a horrible rider and I wish the judge wasn’t so mean.”
When it comes to success, resilient riders also pride themselves in crediting their competitors for strong performances as well. While some riders might only want to talk about how well they rode today, resilient riders make an effort to also recognize the efforts of their opponents. “I may have finished first today, but it was thanks to all the great lessons taught to me by my fellow competitors this season,” is a good example of the kind of statement you'd hear from a resilient rider.
Part of being a resilient rider is recognizing the success of your competitors. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Lastly, resilient riders know that riding isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about being the right amount of wrong. They know that mistakes are bound to happened - and when they do - it doesn't mean that they’re inadequate as a rider, it simply means that they had the courage to push themselves outside their comfort zone, where mistakes are common. When mistakes happen, they own them instead of making excuses or trying to blame them away. They know that if they’re not making a few good mistakes from time-to-time, they’re simply just not trying hard enough.
So, this month, take a little time to think about how you think about your failures and successes. Are you resilient? Do you compliment others after you succeed? Do you pride yourself in owning your mistakes? If so, keep up the great work. If not, don’t feel bad about it, just start today to move in that direction.
In the end, always remember that your best teacher is often your last mistake or failure. But, you can’t learn from your teacher if you’re never in class, or if you refuse to listen to them!