The Adults World Championships in Hachioji are just over and, without a break, the competition marathon continues with the most important competition for the youth athletes: the Youth World Championships in Arco. Despite the physical and mental strain these competition cause, one thing both competitions have in common: we see a lot of falling and failing.

In our society, failing is often swept under the table. No one talks about it, and well, it’s not really accepted. We only hear about success, podiums. Failure is not accepted, yet, what all of the best people in their field have in common: they have all failed before. Failing is not accepted but yet an essential part of winning or being successful. Without failing, there wouldn’t be success in the long-term. Someone that never learns how to deal with failure or accepting that it’s a normal part of developing, will probably sooner or later give up.

How can we better deal with failure?

What if the Youth Worlds and Adults Worlds haven’t gone the way you wanted? What if you were so much under pressure that you couldn’t perform at your best, that you choked under that amount of pressure? What if you didn’t qualify for Olympia even though you were one of the hottest contenders? What if you didn’T meet your own expectations, your coaches expectations, the ones of your fans and sponsors? Colloquially speaking, you might have failed. Well, is that a bad thing though? What’s the best way to deal with it?

First, allow yourself to feel your emotions, don’t try to suppress or hide them. If you are angry, feel the anger and stamp on the ground. If you are frustrated or sad, it’s ok to cry and if you need some space. However, don’t let yourself get sucked into this bubble of negative emotions.

Try to understand these emotions. Why are you feeling angry?

For example: Did you disappoint yourself or somebody else by not reaching your goal, did you make a mistake which was avoidable, did you fall back in an old habit?

What is the emotion telling you? Should you have prepared more properly? Should you have listened to yourself instead of somebody else?

Try to figure out what exactly was bad but also what was good about your performance. There was certainly something you have done well or better than other athletes. Be proud of the good parts! After evaluating the competition and thinking about where and how you failed, make a plan for the next one. How can you avoid the mistakes you did the next time? What can you learn from the performance you are not content with? Being defeated is a chance to grow, to learn and to improve. Remember: if you win a competition you won’t learn as much as if you fail! It is a great opportunity to evaluate your behaviour and to get a closer look at yourself. By that, you can find new ideas to become a greater and at the end more successful athlete!

It is very important that you as a person don’t feel like a failure. It was only a very small part of you, a part of your behaviour on a certain day, which was not exactly as you imagined it. Try to separate the failure from yourself. There is you, a great athlete, who tried the best and there is a behaviour like climbing, which can be easier and harder sometimes.

The best climbers also failed during their career, they went through ups and downs but they always stood up after failing and learned from it. We are all humans or no machines, and it is manlike have better and worse days, to fulfil one’s goals and to sometimes fail them. As sad as it was to see Adam Ondra getting disqualified in the combined semi finals at the Worlds and therefore not getting a ticket for Olympia, considering he’s one of the strongest climbers in the world and surely a hot contender for these Olympia tickets – it also made him human: even athletes as successful as him can sometimes make mistakes, even athletes at the top of their game can sometimes lose. And if he can to fail – isn’t it also ok for the rest of us?

Take a closer look at your goal setting. Did you fail because you set your goals too high? Maybe a re-evaluation is necessary.

Social media doesn’t make it easier to deal with the lack of success. Athletes usually post pictures of great things, of success and improvement because they want to tell their fans, supporters or friends what they have accomplished and that hard work will pay off. It is hard to post about failures because showing weakness is not demanded in the social world. But there is a chance to grow if you tell the social world that you tried the best you could, that it is human to not reach set goals sometimes and that you have learned from it.  People will understand you and even give you support and empathy. Moreover, people will notice if you are honest and authentic or if you fake something.

Last but not least, talking to someone about what happened can help a lot. Reflecting a competition, what went well, what not and what to improve is an important step in learning how to better deal with failure. If this is something you would like to improve on, write me a message.

One of the best short films about dealing with failure!