Ever watched a top competitor in the arena and thought to yourself, "It must be nice. She has a lot of talent and a nice horse. It's easy to see why she is so confident and successful." From the outside, excellence looks effortless. That's why we call it "excellence."
It's easy to look at someone else's excellence and come up a list of reasons why we can't succeed. But often, our perspective is off. We think that it would be easy to be confident and positive if we had a lot of wins to our credit or an expensive horse.
But the truth is, even very successful people experience heartbreak, frustration, and disappointments. The process of learning and acquiring a new skill set is difficult. People who are able to push through to the next level realize that frustration and discouragement are natural.
It's like working out--when you work out really hard and get sore, you recognize the soreness as a sign that you are getting stronger.
It's the same with mental toughness--in order to build your mental "muscle" you will have to push it and make it sore. The way you experience mental "soreness" is frustration, self-doubt, and discouragement.
Learn to make the connection. This is how you "embrace the pain."
Instead of focusing on the emotions of frustration and discouragement, recognize them as a sign that you are doing the necessary work to improve.
This is especially important for us in the horse world. You need a clear understanding of where you are right now, versus where you want to be in the future. This may require you to understand that the horse you have right now is not the horse you will need. But, by the same token, the rider that you are right now is not the ride that you need to be at the next level.
These realities will require you to do some thinking about your ultimate goals. This type of thinking requires pragmatic, grounded optimism, and a strong goal-setting strategy. Learning skills like these helps you to overcome the discouragement and doubt because they "demystify" the path to excellence. Rather than being caught up in the "can'ts", you begin to build a picture of the "cans".
In future posts, I'll share how grounded optimism and goal-setting work together to create the path to excellence.
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photo credit: the author