How Not To Suck
Here’s an interesting thought. Picture an elite athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his or her success. They’ve accomplished the feat that most humans can’t even imagine to dream. Wouldn’t you think they’d now be completely free from the fear of failing, the sting of criticism and judgment, and ultimately have the power to rise above all the annoying hassles of life?
I mean, shouldn’t their continuous success and legendary status erase all doubt? Well, not according to a study that was done. Even with the fame and fortune that come with being a champion in their sport, success does not create happiness. The research and evidence suggest that even an Olympic gold medal does not protect you from the struggle.
Let’s deep dive into the research done in 1995 by a group of nerdy psychologists led by Thomas Gilvovich from Cornell University. They specifically studied silver medal winners vs. bronze medal winners. Surprisingly enough, the bronze medal winner appeared happier than those winning the silver. What the what? Why? It doesn’t make any sense.
The answer? One word. Expectations.
For Olympic athletes, they start off with such a low probability of winning a gold in an event that only happens once every four years, leading to life-changing possibilities… and added pressure. So for silver medalists, it means you lost to the winner. You are not the best, but the second best. You are the most successful loser.
Can you imagine missing the gold by .005 seconds? Feeling like just one more rep, one more hour of work, one less indulgent in-and-out double double with cheese fries could have made the difference. It can be devastating and hard to accept second place and move on without torturing yourself with “if only I could have…”
But for the bronze medalist? You are walking away with something. You get to stand on the podium. While you missed the ultimate goal of winning, the struggle to get there was worth it. Why? Expectations.
I am starting a new series this month. Let’s discuss and unpack the mental/psychology of success and happiness. Let’s look at high achievers and the rise and fall of highly motivated individuals with huge expectations of themselves. And for funzies, let’s do a challenge at the end of the series to help us do hard things and grow.
If you are asking what does this have to do with Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Business…etc…my answer to that is, everything. It all starts with you, so let’s all grow and learn together this month.
Back to managing our expectations. I believe there’s a way to set healthy, realistic and specifically-tailored goals that won’t lead to disappointment or frustration but keeps us challenged and motivated. It could be us directing our attention to process rather than outcome; it could be learning to embrace our failures; it could be practicing self-compassion and/or seeking support and help.
Please be ready to share your own thoughts and any wisdom you’ve found through the struggles – we’re all in this together! Not to overhype it, but this could end up being the beginning of the most important month of our lives. Or maybe to set the right expectations, let’s try to make it the 3rd most important month of our lives and be happy with that.