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How to Win

Mistake Response

“Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.” — Confucius

The difference between success and failure comes down to just a few moments in a person’s life.

Those moments are the ones that come immediately after a failure of some kind. The responses — called mistake responses — add up to your destiny.

In observing athletes you’ll usually see one of two responses to failure: frustration or fascination.

In the case of frustration, you can see any chance to improve slip away. The athlete is too busy groaning and slumping the shoulders to learn anything from the mistake. The self-talk consists of words like “can’t,” and “impossible.”

In the case of fascination, the emphasis is on processing feedback and using it to improve the next attempt. The self-talk includes words like “how.”

Dick DeVenzio discusses mistake-response In the book “Think Like a Champion,” and calls it a habit.

Few athletes have a better habit of rebounding from mistakes than Tiger Woods. He often shows his temper after a poor shot, but he’ll quickly gather himself and prepare for his next swing. Last year he won the U.S. Open in part because of an amazing sequence on the 72nd hole. He hit a poor first shot, then a poor second one. In that situation, most people would have been too rattled to continue effectively. But Woods regrouped for a brilliant third shot.

So if you want to know what your sports destiny is, simply pay attention to the moments right after you make a mistake.


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