As a goaltender, I recall several very specific goals that I allowed during my playing career. One goal in particular sticks in my mind. I don’t remember who it was against. I don’t remember the score or even whether we won or lost. I just remember letting in a goal from the red line…the ultimate sin for a goaltender. I remember diving back to try and recover from my mistake. As I was lying in the net, I remember not wanting to come out of the net to face the humiliation of this grievous blunder.
What sticks in my mind more than anything though, is the encouragement from the assistant coach during the next shift when I made a simple save. Although I had let in an inexcusable goal during the previous shift, my coach chose to focus on that save. His verbal and non-verbal praise allowed me to move on. From that encouragement, I felt like I could compete…like I belonged…like the red line goal was ancient history.
As we manage our failures, it is critical to focus on the positives to ensure we are moving forward toward our goals and toward the standards that we have set for ourselves. We’re not going to achieve success in an instant. We’re going to take some steps forward and we’re going to take some steps back. We get more of what we focus on, so when we accentuate the positives, we get more positives and move forward. Earl Nightengale said “Success is a progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”
This parable reminds me of the importance of taking small steps and gradually digging yourself out of a hole by focusing on the positives.
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off.