Apr 3rd 2017 saw the annual Boat Races down a stretch of the Thames between crews from Oxford and Cambridge. The men’s race is the oldest continuous amateur sporting event in the world, and for the past couple of years the women’s race has been on equal footing – over the same course and on the live TV broadcast.
Last year the women’s race provided drama with the Cambridge boat all but sinking, only avoiding going under by heading for the shallow water once they knew the race was lost.
This year provided different drama, and it drove home a point I make often about goal achievement, and it’s to do with failure…
I often hear that it’s strange for someone like me, who rattles on repeatedly about the power of goal achievement techniques, to even talk about failure at all.
Well, following goal achievement techniques does not guarantee success. It never has, and it never will. To say otherwise is a disservice, which is why I don’t do it.
I prefer to take the possibility of failure head on, because there’s no point in pretending it isn’t there.
We can’t control the whole universe (I’ve tried), and that means that while we *can* control our own thoughts, words, actions, we can’t always control the results to the Nth degree.
This is why I write about sport so often, because it illustrates this point very starkly, and this boat race gave just such an extreme example.
Last year it was the Cambridge women that suffered, this year it was Oxford’s turn.
As the flag dropped to start the race, Rebecca Esselstein put her oar too deep in the water. Whether that was caused by an imbalance somewhere in the boat, or just her mistake, it meant that the oar was trapped in the water, virtually impossible to get out as the 7 other women powered the boat forward.
The only way to rectify the situation was for the cox to order the whole boat to stop, get the oar out, and start again. This only took a few seconds, but for those few seconds while the Oxford boat was going nowhere, Cambridge had been going at full power, and were maybe 2 boat lengths down the river.
The race was over.
Both crews had to keep going. There were still a full 18 minutes of lung bursting effort ahead of them. Cambridge wanted their first win since equality with the men’s race, and Oxford had to keep going just in case a Cambridge rower caught a similar crab, not unheard of.
As it happened, Cambridge powered away to win in a record time, leaving the Oxford women slumped over their oars in a devastating defeat. Devastating because after 6 months of full on intense training, they hadn’t had the chance to have a fair crack…
Except, they *had* got a fair crack!
The whole point of rowing is the technique. It was a technique failure that cost them. These things can happen anywhere during the 18 minutes, it’s just for Oxford it happened right at the beginning, and so spectacularly so that there was no real way back.
It may be obvious to say that for all the 6 month’s training for both crews, one of them will fail every year. That’s clearly true, but to lose in a full race is one thing – to lose in the way Oxford did seems somewhat harsh, unfair even.
In fact, it certainly wasn’t unfair. Harsh, yes, but that’s sport, and can be life in general.
Sometimes things happen that send our best laid plans and efforts way off course, leaving us shaking our fist at life while holding out head in our hands. (ok, if we are shaking our fist, maybe we just hold or head in one hand!)
Some of the Oxford crew will get further chances to ‘right the wrong.’ Some of them won’t get to race again, that was their one shot.
So, look to your plans, your goals, your efforts. Am I saying you shouldn’t even bother, because you might fail?
Oh no. Oh blimey, no!
I say you should press forward, accepting that you might fail, but not letting that be a reason to stop you. Make your plans, set contingencies as and when you can and then you have to take what life throws at you, and react at the time.
The Oxford women will be smarting, to say the least. That’ll last for a good while. You can be sure they won’t be in ‘give up’ mode though. They’ll come through the disappointment, and move on, because that’s what sports people do. It’s a fine lesson to take in life in general, as you get ready to dip your own oar in, whatever that might mean to you – wouldn’t you agree?
Do let me know what you think – I love the feedback!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
P.S. If sport is a passion for you, as it is for me, then my cheatsheet will show you how you can make money from that passion, and it’s something you can start TODAY! Pop over and take a look at my Passion Profit Cheatsheet!