"Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill said the above quote during World War II, imploring his nation in a time of crisis and impending doom to continue to push forward. With so much riding on his every word, he chose to drive home a point of perseverance and resilience, against both complacency from success and depression from failures. This is a point we can very well apply in sports, training, and our own lives.
The phrase I tend to use with my own athletes is "the only step that matters is the next one." Every day, we will face obstacles. A teammate will get injured, a play will go wrong, we won't achieve a milestone we had set. We can't allow that to stop us from pushing ourselves to reach our goals. No matter how long it takes, how hard it gets, how large the obstacles loom, all we can do is work as hard as we can to attain what matters.
In the same vein, we can't allow success to prevent our hard work either. When you win a game, achieve a goal, and perform at your best, it becomes easy to get complacent. After you win, you have to get focused on the next game to win. Many achieve temporary success, fewer repeat it, and even fewer sustain it. To be one of those few who sustains success, you must stay focused on the task at hand, after both wins and losses.
The fact of the matter is that neither success or failure are permanent human conditions. We have the ability to go from one to other quite easily. We don't achieve success and then inherently keep it forever, same as we don't fail and find ourselves with no opportunity to succeed in the future. Being a successful person, therefore, isn't a talent or given status, but rather a habit and lifestyle. Those who continue to push forwards, regardless of past outcomes, positive or negative, are the ones that will begin or continue to achieve success.
This carries weight in all facets of our lives. Take nutrition, for instance - an unhealthy, obese person can improve their diet and get healthy. A healthy person who has eaten well for years can fall off the wagon and become obese. It is not past successes or failures that predict the future; it is the actions you take today.
Training is very much the same - someone who is very weak can work out and get strong. Someone who is strong can get lazy and become weak. Again, past success and failure in training regimen doesn't predict tomorrow, but the steps you take today do.
Football teams follow in suit. A team that has been losing for years can commit to better habits and processes, improve, and win championships. A team that has been at the top of the league for years can easily get complacent and fall down the ranks. They lacked the commitment to success to sustain it any further. Only your current actions can create future success.
And most importantly, in our real lives, the tenant remains true. Not to get overly philosophical, but we possess the gift of free will. We can have good habits or bad habits, good attitudes or bad attitudes. And, we have the ability to trade one for the other. Feeling that you haven't achieved professionally what you've wanted to doesn't stop you from working towards that end today, and getting there tomorrow. And, just because you have achieved success to this point doesn't mean you will keep it. All you can do is focus on the step right in front you.
"Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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