Lessons from a quarterback: Focusing on mistakes gets you nowhere

Michigan State Football Team

My Michigan State Spartans have been struggling this year, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get back up and try again. We could all use that lesson every now and again. Photo credit: NCAAF–Fan IQ Blog

It’s hard to believe that we’re more than a quarter of the way through college football season already. When my Michigan State Spartans run on to the field and the fight song plays, I can’t help but get excited – even if it is just from my living room several states away.

But, here’s the thing – the Spartans have been struggling this season. It was almost laughable to watch the game of musical chairs happening at the quarterback position for the first few games and watching the defense score points almost as well as the offense. It’s “growing pains” like these that are hard to watch as a fan sometimes.

One of the things that does impress me, though, is that no matter what play gets screwed up or ball gets dropped or catch gets missed, the team can’t spend time dwelling on the mistake. They have no choice but to brush it off, learn from it and try to do better next time.

How many times do we need to take this lesson from our favorite football (or basketball or rugby or Quidditch) team and apply it to our personal or professional lives? As a perfectionist, I know I’m guilty of taking my mistakes or even “That didn’t go as well as it should have” moments way too personally. I waste time thinking “How could I have screwed that up? or “Why did I think ahead enough to prevent that?” and place the blame solely on my shoulders.

Instead, wouldn’t it be more productive if we thought “Now that we’re here, what can I do to fix this?” or “What can I learn from this to make it a better experience next time?” or “Is this really as bad as I’m making it out to be or does it only feel messed up because I know how it should have gone?” (a big one for many brides, I think). What if we thought less about punishing ourselves and more about personal growth? In my experience, you’re often the only one expecting perfection, so give yourself a break and learn from every “game”.

Because, remember, just because you took a sack doesn’t mean the next play won’t be a hail Mary straight to the end zone. Touchdown.