The Gift Of Failure

In order to develop to elite levels of performance, your relationship to failure has to be one of inspiration. In fact, how a person deals with failure is one of the most critical determinants of their potential. Those who see failure as an opportunity to learn, will thrive while those who see failure as a time to languish, will decay or stagnate. American psychologist and Stanford University professor, Carol Dweck, wrote about the importance of learning from our failures in her best-selling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, Dweck makes the distinction between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset: “In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”

Fortunately, one of the great things about golf is that failure is in great abundance. It is an ideal classroom to practice the benefits of a growth mindset. Unfortunately, the current culture of golf does not see it that way. All too often, I see golfers playing for perfection and seem unwilling to accept anything less. This lack of acceptance that failure is an inherent part of the game, keeps many golfers fixed in their thinking, hopelessly striving for unattainable goals and setting themselves up for disappointment with unrealistic expectations. 

Ben Hogan famously said, “Golf is a game of misses. He who misses best, wins.” I agree with Mr. Hogan’s assessment and I would add that …he who interprets his misses as opportunities to improve wins more. The next time you face failure, I encourage you to see it as a gift; an opportunity to challenge yourself to do difficult things; to learn and grow in the development of your best self.

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