February 10 , 2014 /


Watching some of the Winter Olympics, the most accomplished athletes in their respective sports competing for medals while representing their countries, one cannot help but have deep admiration and respect for the hours and years of training and preparation.  Those competitors must be practitioners of the 10,000 hours to reach a level of mastery that has taken them to what is often the pinnacle of their careers.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, popularized the concept of the 10,000 hours rule by noting that the elite had practiced twice as long as the less accomplished.  In the case of Olympians, it is probably even more.  The point here is not about those who start their professional journey at an early age by practicing and competing, and winning, but more about being successful while making mistakes and learning from them.
Even the best and most successful slip and fall along the way and what is important is how they pick themselves up, brush themselves off, barring a serious injury, and start all over again.  Or, in the case of being in the middle of a performance, those with the can-do attitude who continue to perform, play or compete.  Whether on the court, field, slopes, rink, course or even in the office, how one plays the game can make all the difference in the world.
The skills, talent, energy and commitment that one develops and brings to practice a particular craft may well make significant contributions to the level of success that is the result.  However, just as important are the attitude, confidence, personality and relationships that the individual exhibits while practicing, performing and competing.   A key component in all of this is the instructor or coach who guides, directs, supports and helps make corrections with the person who wants to achieve the highest level possible.
One of the continuing essential questions is what lessons are learned from both success and mistakes?  Do we learn more from mistakes than from success?  One thing is patently clear and that is if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are probably going to repeat them.  (George Santayana)  And what, precisely, is it that we learn?  One lesson we can learn is how to make that adjustment or correction so that next time, and there will undoubtedly be a next time, the outcome will be different.  I certainly found that to be true with skiing as well as working with other people.  I didn’t screw it up the next turn.

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