In high-performance sport, as in life, a season consists of a multitude of moments. Moments in which everything goes swimmingly, we feel great and everything’s fine. Those are the moments that really motivate the athlete, when you feel able to give the very best of yourself. However, there are also moments of doubt, whether they be professional or personal, indeed, any problem that affects the performance of an athlete. It’s during these moments that the athlete’s team help push him forward. It’s the team who make him realise that this is just another situation to overcome and lead him back to the right path. Without a doubt, it is these dark moments of injury, poor results or any other problem, that are the most important.
And why do I say that bad times are the most crucial in the life of an elite athlete – and anyone else who wants to succeed? Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during World War II, said in one of his most famous statements that “success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” This phrase, which some may take as a negative one, is one of the most important lessons that professional sport has given me. To achieve success there is no magic formula. In my opinion there is only a recipe in which the ingredients are, among others, to have a natural talent for whatever it is you want to do, be willing to work tirelessly, surround yourself with a good team and be lucky at key moments.
But above all, the main ingredient in this recipe for success is to learn from your personal experience, especially from bad times. Because it is when we have fallen down and have to get back up again to prove our worth, that we really deserve our success.
In my opinion, the education that we are giving our new generation in this respect misses the mark. We educate children, instilling within them a fear of failure. Failure is a part of life that will always be present, and being afraid is the first step to giving in to it. Better to educate young people and show them that failure is at the beginning of the learning process. Failure is something which shows us that our original path was not the right one and gives us an opportunity to stand up and choose a different way to achieve success. By doing so, we would be helping our children not to be afraid, and rooting them in confidence, able to face any challenges the future may bring.
Because excellence consists of making the most of the good times and learning from the bad, not avoiding them or hiding them.