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Annihilating Perfectionism

Why do we, kids and adults, make it so easy to experience the feeling of failure and so difficult to experience the feeling of success?

This is the question I led with when I met with Dylan yesterday, one of our PFP athletes.

Dylan is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, which means he rarely, if ever, experiences true satisfaction and feelings of success. And since we tend to get more of what we experience most often, this is not a good sign...

The reason?

He has never decided on his rules for feeling failure, and his rules for feeling success-- he simply adopted someone else's rules.

Dylan's Old Rules for Feeling Failure (which he agreed that failure is an intense emotion that should NOT be experienced as often as it is)

  • If I make an error in the field
  • If I strike out (looking or swinging, doesn't matter)
  • If coach calls me out
  • If coach pulls me out
  • If coach doesn't give me a compliment
  • If the fans boo
  • If I have a bad game
  • If I don't earn an accolade and someone else does
  • If I get a B on a test
  • If someone talks about me behind my back
  • If girlfriend ignores me

Honestly, his list was longer. Pretty much ANYTHING short of absolute perfection caused Dylan to experience the feeling of failure. Dylan is not unique. The majority of student-athletes, from middle school all the way up to the pros, have never decided on a healthy set of rules for feeling failure, as well as success. Dylan went through the Redefining Your Rules Exercise and this is what he came up with:

His New Rules for Feeling Failure

  • If I intentionally give up on something that I know I shouldn't quit on, just because it got hard- then I will allow myself to experience the feeling of failure
  • If I hurt someone, am outright mean to them, and I do not take steps to apologize and make it right, then I will allow myself to experience the feeling of failure

Dylan decided that for anything OUTSIDE of those two things, he would chalk the experience up as:

  • A lesson learned
  • A mistake that will lead to growth
  • He fell short, not big deal

Mom, dad, coach-- I'm not sure if you are catching the power in this!!!! Dylan now needs reinforcement and reminders, but he has just made a definitive decision that WILL change his quality of life by changing the emotions he experiences most often. Oh and maybe you are wondering about what it takes for him to feel like he succeeded?

Old Rules for Success:

  • He needed to be perfect, not make a mistake, get all A's, hear all sorts of compliments (you get the picture)

New Rules for Experiencing Success:

  • I will feel successful when I do my best with what I have, when I keep a positive attitude, when I help others do well, when I show up even though I don't feel like it, when I stay true to who I am

There is power in decisions. There is power in taking back control of how you define success. 

And this is 1 of the 7 Mindset Hacks in my upcoming book, ATHLETE! I'm Talking to YOU! Take Back Control: The 7 Mindset Hacks to DOMINATE in Sports and Life. 

Download a free excerpt today before the book comes out on February 28!

Dedicated to your athlete's success on and off the field,

Coach Andrew J Simpson

Founder of Player's Fitness and Performance

Andrew Simpson

Chief Vision Officer
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