Mastering the Art of Recovery

“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” ~ Miles Davis

At his first acting audition, a 16-year-old kid was told, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something.”

If you were that 16-year old kid, what would you have done?

  • Would you have gone off and become a dishwasher or something or,
  • Would you have rattled off a list of why you were indeed qualified for the role you were auditioning for or,
  • Would you have a one-on-one conversation with your ego and say let’s go to work and get the skills required to do this job right.?

The kid chose the latter. That kid was Sidney Poitier and you know what happened next and continued to keep happening for many years to come.

Many who have experienced both success and failure say that while success is sweet, failure has the best lessons. You will be unable to access those lessons though if failure wipes you out.

If you’re trying. If you’re exerting effort, there’s a very high probability that you’re going to mess up. You’re going to fail. To safeguard against failure knocking you down and keeping you there, you need to master the art of recovery.

The art of recovery involves the following five steps.

1. Acknowledge the Failure

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  ~Theodore Roosevelt

Failure is not hallowed ground. It bears the footprints of many. Ignoring its occurrence sets you twenty steps back as opposed to just two.

When it comes to power, knowledge continues to hold pace with the best of them. When you attempt to do something and that effort results in failure you are equipped with knowledge that you would otherwise have never had access to. This knowledge can place you at the head of the pack if you learn to use it right.

As you acknowledge the failure, it is equally important to acknowledge your role in its creation. Many of us were taught this lesson a long time ago. He who gets the blame gets the punishment. Lurking in the shadows of failure is fear of blame and also pride.

You know what they say about pride, it comes before a fall. In addition, if pride is standing in between you and acknowledging failure, it means that you’re caring too much about what others think.When it comes to the blame portion, learn to view the

When it comes to the blame portion, learn to view the acknowledgment of your part in a failed event not as a source of punishment but of learning.

When you fail to acknowledge your role in a negative outcome, you reserve yourself a lifetime roundtrip ticket on a plane with only one destination. Failure.

2. Fill in the Gaps

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”  ~Henry Ford

Never allow yourself to go blindly from failure to failure. No matter how inconsequential that failure may seem to be.

Failure has its place but it should never be the plan. The occurrence of it means that there are gaps that need to be filled. Ignoring the gaps leads to canyons down the road that you will struggle needlessly and unsuccessfully to climb out of.

Fill in the gaps. Be completely honest with yourself and discipline yourself to go beyond the obvious. As you analyze why your efforts resulted in failure, beware of your pre-existing beliefs that may steer you towards seeing things as you wish them to be versus as they are.

We always gravitate towards our strengths. To master the art of the recovery” though, you must face your weaknesses. Dissect the failure from all angles and do patch work as dictated by what you find and not what you feel.

If the lens through which you’re reviewing the failure is cloudy, call for reinforcements to help clear the haze.

3. Make a Plan

“Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who’ve mastered the art of recovery did not do it by chance. They had a plan. Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. When asked by Tony Robbins how he survived he responded, “I didn’t survive, I prepared.” 

You’re going to need a plan and not just any plan will do. Good plans tell you what to do. Great plans tell you what to do when you start to veer off course or life interrupts. You should know that life is designed to interrupt.

For example, let’s say you decide to hit the gym 5 times a week at 4 pm. On the 5th day, 4 pm finds you unexpectedly nowhere near your gym.

Do you:

  • Shrug it off and say there’s always tomorrow or,
  • Do you start whining to whomever you’re with about what you should be doing at this time or,
  • Do you pick from the list of alternatives that you had pre-planned for moments just like this?

Without a great plan, you’d spend your time berating yourself over the workout you missed, sharing that negativity with those around you and stacking up too many tomorrows. With a great plan, you would have simply picked from the list of alternatives that you had pre-planned for moments just like this.

Something else to keep in mind as you make your plan is that you may come to find that what you are trying to accomplish has been done by somebody else. Somebody who you may even admire. A word of caution in this regard.

Never set out to copy word for word or action for action the plan that your favorite mogul, start-up guru or mentor used to get them where they are.  That plan was not designed for you and is not all-inclusive.This is because they have learned over time that most people don’t want to hear what they really sacrificed and did to get where they are today. They only want to hear what they feel they can also accomplish.

In addition, people who have already succeeded at something know this hard truth. People don’t want to hear what you really sacrificed and did to get where you are today. They only want to hear what they feel they can also accomplish.

Be inspired by the plans of others but always make a plan for who you are at the point where you are at. Your mentor might only be sleeping for four hours because that is what they need. You might need more but your commitment is such that you are able to accomplish the things you set out to achieve but are choosing instead, to get stuck on the fact that you’re sleeping for two hours more than they are.

So make a plan. Make a plan that challenges you and works for you as that’s the only plan you’re going to end up sticking to.

4. Recommit Yourself

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.” ~ Ken Blanchard

Failure no matter how proudly or nobly faced will leave you with some doubts. It will shake some things loose that will need to be tightened. If you allow it to, it will rob you of the enthusiasm and sense of persistence required to step back onto the field.

So, take some time to recommit to yourself and to your worth that still stands in spite of what you have just experienced. Then, recommit yourself mentally to your goals and to your journey. Step back and look at the big picture and remind yourself why it matters. Why this journey must be seen through to the end.

During this time you might make the discovery that your why is not strong enough to see you through because it was poorly chosen. This represents growth and your honesty should be applauded. Starting for the wrong reasons can be understood. Staying for the wrong reason reflects poor character and a lack of responsibility for ones own life.

So change the why or change the goal. If you change the goal remember, that you may need to go back to the previous step and change the plan to match the new goal.

5. Try Again

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  ~ Winston Churchill

Everything you have done above has equipped you with various pieces of knowledge. Knowledge is just the start and learning does not happen at the table. What makes knowledge worth all the time and effort you took to collect it is action. Persistent, consistent action.

So try again. Try again before you talk yourself out of trying and get in your own way. Try sooner rather than later before fear increases its footprint in your life and you deem the risk to costly.

As you try again and step back onto the field remember this. Treat the past failure as a single event. This isn’t every other time. This time is now. It only exists in this moment. You’ve never been here before. Don’t weigh this moment down with baggage from past failures. Take a clean shot.

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