Last year’s dog agility trials were nothing short of a nightmare for my girlfriend, Chantel. Her dog, Kia, basically failed to obey any of her commands. She was heartbroken. As I watched the events unfold that afternoon, I was interpreting them differently than everyone else. Instead of feelings of embarrassment, despair or shame that one may typically feel in such a situation, I was instead overcome with pride and inspiration. I knew at that moment that I was witnessing something special (I actually wrote about it here) and this past weekend I was proven right.
Now, a year later, Chantel and Kia stood at the start of the agility course again. Anxiety swirled in my stomach as I waited for their run to begin. I had witnessed first-hand how hard she was practicing and how badly she wanted to succeed. While Kia was now more than capable of doing runs such as this, I couldn’t help but be nervous. As their run began I felt like a parent watching their child batting with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning.
My nervousness was quickly replaced by elation. Kia was listening and they were going through the obstacles with relative ease. They finished second in the event, then third in another event the next day. Thinking about her in those runs fills me with an overwhelming sense of pride and happiness. It’s hard to think of a better kind of moment than watching someone you love, succeed at something that they love.
To most of the witnesses, it looked like just another great run. They didn’t know how hard it might have been for her to not give up after her previous try. They wouldn’t know how hard or how much she practiced. No, they wouldn’t think of any of these things. They would just think about the outcome, not the whole story leading up to it. As a society, we often judge an individual on the result of the single event, not on how they prepared for it. We don’t appreciate the time, effort, and achievement of just getting there. Becoming vulnerable in such a way is sometimes just as difficult as the thing you are doing.
When something doesn’t go the way we want it to, we always have two choices:
When it’s hardest to persevere that’s usually when it’s most important to. It’s one thing to quit when it turns out you don’t really care about something. You tried it, it didn’t work, it’s not for you. However, when you fall in love with doing something and you are embarrassed in the big moment, that’s when you’re going to get rocked. Those shortcomings can eat away at you for months, maybe even years. It hurts so much because what you are doing is important to you. When you succeed those failures become a sense of pride. You can look back and see everything you had to overcome. It gives greater meaning to your success.
Unfortunately, you may never accomplish the goal you set out for yourself. There are so many external factors outside of your control that it’s improbable that everything will align for you. That’s why you should focus on the love of doing something and not so much where you want it to take you. Reduce the importance of the big event and increase the importance of being able to do what you love every day. That’s what really matters.