Last week was a rough week. It took all of your energy. You don’t want the weekend to end because you’re still recovering from last week’s beating. It’s fine to take time for recovery but you have to keep moving. However slowly you go, you must continue forward.
When life is kicking your ass, you gotta fight back. It doesn’t matter if you’re victorious or you take the L. This is because movement is opportunity. This is because movement is energy. If you stop moving then you stop generating both of these and then you are nothing.
Most people in the world seek certainty. Certainty is false security because nothing is truly certain. Even physics teaches us that the world we see is the only most likely configuration of things. Not absolutely. Just most likely. All we can do is stack the cards in our favor and hope for the best possible outcome.
You feel beat down and ready to quit because the laws of probability didn’t turn out in your favor. When things don’t go your way then you want to stop trying. You want to stop moving. But if you do that, then it dramatically decreases your chances of getting what you want.
So one opportunity didn’t work out. The world doesn’t stop moving just because you got your ass kicked. Opportunities don’t stop flowing and the only way to take advantage of them is to keep moving. Someone wise said that success is inevitable if you can move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. This always sounded like feel good, motivational nonsense but lately I’ve come to truly understand its meaning.
Enthusiasm causes you to act. Each failure diminishes your enthusiasm, which diminishes your ability to act. After a few failures you are reduced to a standstill. This is no good because you need to be moving to take advantage of opportunity. If you can keep your enthusiasm, then you keep your ability to move and take advantage of opportunities.
If you can keep moving from setback to setback without any loss of motivation, then eventually you’ll get an opportunity and the law of probability will be on your side.
How does one keep high motivation in the face of adversity and the aftermath of failure? I don’t know if my answer is the best one but it’s the only one that I’ve got and it works for me. The way to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm is to develop an irrationally short memory.
The only reason why you let the fears of past failures inhibit you is because you remember them. The more traumatic the failure, the more intense the memory. In football they talk about the quarterback requiring a “short memory” so he can play effectively after he throws an interception. He has to understand that the percentages went against him in just one play, but overall he’s good enough to make completions.
Now if the quarterback is haunted by his mistakes, he will be apprehensive. Fearing that he’ll make a mistake, he’ll throw fewer passes down the field. His movement is inhibited and now he is more likely to miss a wide open opportunity. Even if it would allow his team to win the game.
In a new favorite book of mine, Hustle, the authors talk about the idea of batting averages in baseball and how it relates to hustling. I’m paraphrasing the idea, but each person has a batting average—the number of times they are successful swinging at the opportunity pitches in life. You can do very little to improve your average so the only way to have more success is to get up to bat more often.
If your batting average is .3, then you’ll only hit 3 out of every 10 opportunity pitches you swing at. Of those, some may get you far, some may be homeruns, but most will not ultimately result in a score. Unlike baseball where you’re out after you miss 3 times, in life you can get up to bat and swing as often as you want to. You can’t change the .3 average but you can swing at 100 pitches instead of 10. It’s much more likely that one of the 30 you hit will score or even be a homerun.
This concept extends to our personal life as well. Broken trust makes it hard to trust again. Broken hearts make it hard to love again. If you’ve had a bad experience and decide that bonding with people isn’t for you, that’s fine. My goal isn’t to convince you to take a different path. However, if you want to feel connected with another person then it’s important to develop a short memory.
We all need time to mourn and recover. This is normal and expected. We also need to learn what we did wrong so that anything in our control we can fix. We never want to forget the lesson; only the feeling of failure. The quarterback doesn’t want to forget what he learned about the defense; he only wants to forget how it felt when they picked him off.
At the core of this idea is a very potent lesson: You are not your failures or mistakes. You also are not your success and victories. Those are ultimately beyond your control. You are the process. Remember that nothing is guaranteed. Even with your best effort things may still not turn out how you’d like.
That’s alright. A short memory coupled with great enthusiasm will make it possible for you to stay in the game and eventually get what you came for.