I was talking to my brother recently and he gave a great analogy that he uses with his students which he calls “setting up the white ball”. For context, Ben is an Artistic Director for a youth contemporary dance company in England. One of the many and varied roles he does (and is most passionate about) is teaching boys from difficult backgrounds contemporary dance/physical theatre. He told me that the boys often get very frustrated with not getting technique or challenging moves correct and as a result, not progressing or achieving their goals. So when they do miss a move or technique Ben says, “Remember boys, you are setting up the white ball!” I was curious and asked Ben what does snooker and frustration have in common.
He said, “In snooker, you aim to sink the red then a coloured ball and so on… but you shouldn’t worry too much about if you get the ball in the pocket, it’s all about setting up the white ball for your next shot (or snookering your opponent). That way, you may not sink the ball on the first shot, but if you set up the white ball, you’ll eventually sink them all”.
One of my favourite thought leaders of the moment is James Clear, who has written about mental toughness and talks about a similar solution in a different context. I’d highly recommend you read his article here.
James talks about ‘Sisu’, which is a word that refers to continuing to act even in the face of repeated failures and extreme odds.
“Most people let their battles define them. They see failure as an indication of who they are. Mentally tough people let their perseverance define them. They see failure as an event. Failure is something that happens to a person, not who a person is.”
How do you deal with setbacks, disappointments and failures? Do you let these challenges define you or do let your perseverance define you? Of course, this is easier said than done! What strategies do you use to ensure your perseverance defines you?
I will leave you with a favourite quote that is always worth reflecting on:
“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better, Every problem comes to break us or make us. The choice is whether we become a VICTIM or VICTOR.”
Richard Dunks – Executive Consultant