How Do You See It? The Difference Between Success and Failure

mountain climbing

You’ve all heard of “Vision Boards”, right?

That idea that if you take images of things you want and put it on a board, you’ll get them.

I’m sure there’s more to it but that’s the cliff notes version.

Have you ever wondered if there’s anything to that?

Not that somehow you’ll magically obtain all your hopes and dreams by gluing some pieces of paper together. But that, if you envision yourself having something, you’re more likely to get it?

Lately this idea has been coming up a lot in my life.

One experience that stands out when I think about imagining myself getting something I want, is of course…related to Crossfit.

A few months ago, I was attempting a particularly difficult lift at a particularly difficult weight and failing. I was about to give up completely when my coach came up to me and said, “Imagine yourself completing the lift.”

Then he continued to paint a picture of what it would look like once I had achieved what I wanted. He told me to not just think about what it would look like when I completed the lift, but imagine how I felt, imagine how the barbell would feel in my hands, imagine everything about that moment.

Did I end up successfully completing the lift? Honestly, I don’t remember. Part of me thinks I did because I usually remember my failures more than my successes but I can’t really say.

What I can say is that it doesn’t matter, because I got what was necessary out of that moment. From then on, I started trying to incorporate this approach to other areas of my life. And I began to notice something.

Whenever I was faced with a difficult task, I never saw myself succeeding. I only saw failure. And let me tell you…I am REALLY good at picturing what an excellent failure looks like. People laughing, posting about it on the internet, me pooping my pants in front of a bunch of strangers, having to move far away and start over because I’m so humiliated…the list goes on.

Remember when I tried to climb that really tall mountain? Yep…just picturing myself collapsing on the mountain or barfing in front of a bunch of people the entire time.

And you know what? Those failure scenarios literally never happen. Yes, sometimes I do fail…but it’s rarely awful and when it is…it’s never as awful as I imagined.

Imagine how wonderful and more frequent my successes would be if I went into things already knowing what it would feel like to succeed. Already feeling as though I had won.

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

In life, my general philosophy has always been that if I imagine the worst, I’ll never be disappointed. For some reason I have an insane aversion to being disappointed.

I’ll go to any means to avoid disappointment. Even if that means living a life where, in my head, I’m failing everything attempt.

What if, instead of never being disappointed and always knowing exactly what it felt like to fail, I was occasionally disappointed but I always knew how amazing it felt to succeed?

Isn’t that better than never being disappointed?

Fear of Foolishness

But this is what it all comes down to. I’m afraid to look dumb. I’m afraid I’ll be all confident and ready to succeed and I’ll fail. Then someone will look at me and say, “BAH! You thought you could do that? You’re delusional and dumb.”

I’ve just got to get over it. And I’m going to. One challenge at a time, I’m going to picture myself succeeding. In fact, I’m doing it right now! I’m seeing myself succeed at picturing success. Oh man, it feels awesome to always know what it’ll be like when I succeed.

Even if the challenge is way beyond my abilities and I know it to be true, I’m going to see myself succeeding. I’m going to remind myself of this: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37

We Are More Than Conquerors

I love that.

at the top

I never mentioned, but I did try again to climb that mountain that destroyed me. It was actually only about a month later. This time, I made it to the top.

What was different? Maybe things like getting a better night’s sleep, eating better the week before, and knowing what to expect had something to do with it. But you know what else? I never for one second thought that I wouldn’t be able to make to the top that time.

I knew I was going to make it and the entire time I was hiking I saw myself on the top, with a stupid grin on my face, knowing that I had just achieved a goal that only a month before, I never thought I’d be able to do.

So, hey…maybe there’s something to this whole “imagine yourself succeeding” thing. I think I’ll give it a try.

What do you think? Do you picture yourself failing or succeeding? Have you seen a difference? Let me know in the comments!

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