This morning on the radio I was listening to a sports talk show where they were discussing the quarterbacks Ryan Lindley of the Arizona Cardinals and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. Both quarterbacks played horribly on Sunday, to the extent that Sanchez was benched and Lindley has been deemed the worst quarterback to play a game this year.
The analyst, Ron Jaworski, made the comment that all great quarterbacks have to have “amnesia“. He went on to explain that by “amnesia” he meant that when a great quarterback has a bad throw, an interception, or a bad game they have to forget about it and keep playing as if it had never happened. If they keep it in the back of their mind, they will tend to play more timidly on the next play and perform poorly. Then it spirals downward.
I believe that most of the highly successful people in life and in business are the ones who also suffer from “amnesia.” They don’t let their past mistakes keep them from going after their future goals. If you ask any entrepreneur how they became successful they will all tell you that it came through hard work and overcoming the mess-ups. They failed over and over along the way but they picked themselves up and went back to work without dwelling too long on the failure.
We all fail and make mistakes, that is inevitable. We get a bad grade in school, we make a bad investment, we yell at our kids, etc. But the danger is in letting the mistakes define us. Partially by other people but mostly from ourselves. It is easy to fall into the trap of saying, “I’m not that smart because I get bad grades.” or “I’m always bad with my money.” When we start talking to ourselves like that, we start to become what we don’t want to become. The way to avoid letting this happen is to look at your mistake or failure, learn from it, and then let it go. Just tell yourself, “Dang that was so stupid of me, I’m not letting that happen again.” and then move on and do better next time. Don’t let one mistake turn into a string of mistakes because you never learned from the first one. And don’t let a mistake stick with you because you can’t let it go.
Life is about learning, and learning is about failing. Sometimes it is about failing over and over again. But when you fail, you sure learn a lot. Thomas Edison perfected his light bulb after 10,000 tries. He didn’t magically discover how to do it on try number 10,000. First, he found 9,999 ways not to make a light bulb. And now he is known as the guy who invented the light bulb, not the guy who failed a bunch of times. He kept learning, taking notes, and moving forward. He suffered from failure amnesia.
The next time that you try at something but come up short, don’t beat yourself up over it. It isn’t worth it. Take a look at why you failed and then forget about it. Get up and try it again. This great joys in this life are reserved for those who dare greatly, who fail but pick themselves up, and keep moving forward.
Let’s all try to be amnesiacs a little more often. You are better than you think you are, don’t tell yourself otherwise!
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