Shaun White’s victory did not just make winter Olympic history. For him, it was a personal victory. For us, an example of what to do when we do not meet up to our own and others expectations. What to do when we fail.
If you haven’t heard of Shaun White’s gold medal win at Pyeong Chang, you may just be living in a cave or not care about the Olympics. Typically, I pay little attention to sports, but the Olympics are not just examples of great athleticism, but of great humanity and perseverance.
Shaun White had 2 gold medals in his repertoire by 2011. He was considered the best. He may have been a bit cocky too, as he competed in Sochi. Sochi had all kinds of problems already, from bad weather to badly built structures, but the Olympics are all about facing these adversities and winning over them. Shaun did not. He came in 4th, not even medaling.
From what I know, he felt his lowest mentally after that point. 4 years later, he hits his head on a ramp while practicing, needs 62 stitches in his face, and seriously faces the fear and reality that something like that could happen to him again if he keeps going.
4 months later, he wins gold in Pyeong Chang and cries tears of complete joy and relief.
When we fail in a big or small way, it’s easy to throw a pity party and go a different direction. Whenever I start a new job, I find myself failing in small ways every day. At first, I allowed these failures to define me and beat myself up over and over again at home because of them, until one day I got fired. Big fail! My world came crashing down in a way, but relief came too. My biggest fear had come true and I may have not handled it in the best way, but it shaped me none the less.
At my next job, I was terrified of messing up, being criticized, or reprimanded. Through my small failures came small victories.
My point is, failure shapes you. With each mistake your mind begins to process life differently. You begin to understand that failure will happen, you can’t stop trying when it does, and you can’t let it change the way you see yourself.
Hopefully, one day, you’ll be like White, so when you fail, rather than just continuing on, you come back better than ever and blow all expectations out of the water.