True grit and why failure is good | An Eventful Life

True grit and why failure is good


This article was first published in February 2017


It’s the beginning of February and the eventing season is about to begin

In January we tend to all be still a little sleepy from festivities, lolling on the beach or snuggling up inside to keep warm.  The month that is named after Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways who is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions, often sees us in two minds; we may be living in 2017 but we are still looking back on 2016

During that month everything is ticking over - hopefully the horses are at least being fed - but it isn’t until February that suddenly the prospect of serious riding and being back into competition mode, at whatever level or playing whatever role, is staring you right in the face. Suddenly we are brought into the present, well and truly looking forward

While many cannot wait for it to start again others may need a little extra motivation, that golden nugget that is so vital. Motivation is the key to so many things that we will face during the coming year and it is the driving force that not helps us get started but also spurs us on when things get tough. And we all know that this is a tough sport; in short, the 4* eventing riders will face many of the same dilemmas as the Wobbleberries

At some point in 2017 you will wonder, ‘Why am I doing this?’, ‘Is it worth it?’ or ‘Should I just give up’. Believe me, you won’t be alone and, however fleeting or nagging those thoughts may be, it may be worth having a few little ‘nuggets of gold’ to bring out and be warmed by.

So here is the first of four ‘golden nuggets’. Hopefully you’ll find in them some inspiration to help rekindle your enthusiasm or simply some food for thought. Sometimes all it takes is to look at a problem differently and one idea from one of these four videos coming up may make all the difference

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint” is one such phrase in the TED talk by Angela Duckworth in the video below

Her closing thoughts are that “We need to measure whether we've been successful, and we have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned”.

Angela, whose TED talk has been viewed over 10 million times, is not the only one to believe that failure is not fatal and is part of the ‘grit development’ process.

 Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world, right? Absolutely. In fact, Amazon’s market value as at December 30th 2016 of $355.9 billion was bigger than the $297.8 billion market value of all the major publicly traded department stores in the United States put together. But Amazon still get it wrong sometimes, a fact that CEO Jeff Bezos knows it and embraces

 “Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right. When this process works, it means our failures are relatively small in size (most experiments can start small), and when we hit on something that is really working for customers, we double-down on it with hopes to turn it into an even bigger success. However, it’s not always as clean as that. Inventing is messy, and over time, it’s certain that we’ll fail at some big bets too” (Amazon Letter to Shareholders 2014)

So, when times get tough in 2017, accept your failures and stay the course .....