Ugh. Failure. Sometimes realizing we're not perfect is a hard pill to swallow. Don’t you hate setting your mind to do something and then despite trying really hard, it doesn’t happen?

It-Is-The-Worst! 

It’s happened before and it’ll happen again, but recently, it happened at spin class.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of FlyWheel. They have a digital scoreboard so you can compete with other riders in the class, if you choose. It’s great motivation when you see someone just ahead or behind you.

Despite thinking I’ve grown out of my competitive nature, this totally brings me back to being a competitive athlete again. I went to a new instructor and it was an amazing class. Spectacular music, fun energy.  I thought, “This might be the most fun class I’ve taken here.”

It was awesome! Until the end. I had just come off of three spin classes in about 10 days where I slipped a position or failed to take over a rider during the last song of the class when behind by 1 point.

I decided, enough.

In the last song of the ride, I was going back and forth with this other rider on the scoreboard.

Back and forth. Back and forth. I could see my name bump up and down from 6th to 7th place repeatedly. “Whitney325” and I knew it was down to the final moments and neither of us were letting up. I even made myself a little dizzy, but just said, “Leah, push through. It’s almost over, you can do it! Harder! Faster! Leah, you can beat her! Come on, come on, come on!”

When the instructor hit the “End” button locking in all scores, I looked up.

Whitney325 finished ahead of me.

Are you  F*$%*@#! kidding me?

Partly adrenaline, partly frustration, tears welled up in my eyes. Seriously?

It F*&$^#g happened AGAIN!

I knew wherever Whitney325 was in class, she was smiling - and that just made me want to put my fist through the wall (Andy Bernard-style for all you Office fans).

I’m not one to really mentally or physically push myself, at least not anymore.  So why when I finally decide to go after something with 100% ferocity, I was still coming up short?

                       ( Joking)

                       ( Joking)

I immediately got in my car and called my sister. I know it took every ounce of her not to laugh that I was upset about spin. But like I told her, it wasn’t about spin, it was about setting a goal for myself and repeatedly falling short, at the very end nonetheless. Why couldn't I just "finish"?  The self-judgement was outta control (and probably adrenaline too).  

I can hear her clear as day, (slightly giggling) “Leah, you’re focusing too much on the end result.”  

Duh, but shouldn’t I be? We’ve all got to have goals to go after? I was especially proud because despite being a driven person, I rarely set definitive, objective, measurable goals for myself (blame it on my chill demeanor).

She calmed me down and she was totally right.

She reminded me that I told her that the class was awesome. Again, probably one of the most fun classes I’ve taken. And, I kicked ass. I probably burned a ton of extra calories by competing with this girl. In hindsight, my calories and distance, total power, etc. would have all been the same had she finished a half second behind me. I was measuring my success of the class by beating this ONE person.

I was 7th out of 65+ riders. Not too shabby. Competing with this girl prevented me from quitting at the end and completely falling off the board.

If we measure success with such strict parameters, we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of disappointments over our lifetime.

I just figure if I keep challenging and competing, eventually, I will win. All those losses don’t really matter because they still are a win- they just look a little different than what I imagined and that’s OK.

Set goals. Go after them. Hard.

But be OK with the Whitney325s of the world that may alter the way your finish lines look.

Nothing was lacking from my ride finishing 7th rather than 6th, other than my ego saying “Ha, ha, you beat her. You are more supreme than she.”

(damn you ego)

One of my favorite authors, Mike Dooley, writes,
“There are no finish lines in life, yet perpetually seeking them serves only to remind you of what’s missing, reinforcing the imagined lack.”

It’s true. If we can only see success in such black and white terms, we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of disappointments in life. We lose sight of all that's been gained during the process. We have complete control over our perspective. We can choose to focus on the lack or we can choose to focus on what's been gained. Let's choose wisely.

 Why failure is part of the process

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