How to Avoid Major Failure

Have you ever engaged in a difficult activity and lost focus when distracted by someone much better, then failed in a major way? I have. Many times when attempting to fulfill a goal and while ice skating.

Failure happens when we attempt to reach a super tough goal but focus our attention on something else.

It can be as simple as an off-hand glance or a quick comparison. A distraction that causes doubt can result in SPLAT! We hit the frozen lake HARD.

After watching the movie Hans Brinker when I was a kid in Madison, Wisconsin, I wanted to skate just like him. Santa provided the ice skates and Dad drove our family to Lake Wingra.

I was sure I’d glide just like Hans. My mom laced the hooks on my skates in the warming house while some skaters chatted on benches and others clomped past on their sharp blades. Once on the ice, I lost my confidence. My parents pointed out the sharp teeth on the front of my skates. I tentatively pushed ahead.

After a few steps, I looked up as another skater swooshed by. Down I went. I quickly learned that concentrating on my feet was necessary to complete my goal of staying in the upright position. This spared my poor posterior.

Changing my gear

Years later, I tried hockey skates. Seduced by the dark sturdy leather, I asked a friend, Jim Mullen, if I could try them. He and my friends cracked up laughing as I stepped forward and faceplanted on the ice. The toothless blades made pushing off so awkward. After a few quick smackdowns, I switched back to my old skates.

How to avoid crashing and burning

The Winter Olympics

A year later, Jim tried out for the Olympics. He drove to the trials with other skaters like Eric Heiden.

When Jim started his speed skating trial, he flew ahead of the pack. How far ahead, he didn’t know. With the finish line right in front of him, he looked over his shoulder to check. Continue reading