Good or bad. Winning and losing. Success and failure. We view outcomes as absolutes. In work, we use metrics to define our level of performance. While these are important, they are not everything.
Success on a goal does not define or predict future success.
Failure to accomplish a goal does not make you a failure.
There is a parable about a Farmer that gives a unique perspective to how we feel in the moment:
Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.
"Perhaps," the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "What great luck!" the neighbors exclaimed.
"Perhaps," replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
"Perhaps," answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
"Perhaps," said the farmer.
Life is full of unintended consequences. All you can do is control what you can. The label we give to them in the moment is just a story we tell ourselves.
It would have been easy for the Farmer to feel sorry for himself. Nobody would have blamed him. It would have been equally easy for the Farmer to become complacent with his great luck. However, he didn’t because he knew life kept going. Either way, that win or setback wasn’t “the end”.
Practice patience and perspective. Focus on your process even more so than your goals. Goals are temporary and fleeting. There is always another goal to reach or mountain to climb. Your process endures.
We define your process as the sum of your purpose, values and habits. It’s how you solve problems, approach goals and live your life. We’re constantly evolving our personal processes based on what we learn and how we feel.
Your wins and mistakes won’t define you, but whether you choose to learn from them will.
“Mistakes followed by positive reflection lead to growth.” -AMP Up1 Culture Values
Take the lessons learned from your wins and losses and allow them to help you grow and improve your process to better prepare you for your next challenge.
The next time you feel the urge to rush to judgement, reflect on your process and keep moving forward.
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