Mistakes and failures are often considered to be negative occurrences instead of opportunities to grow and learn. This thought process often keeps one stuck in a cycle of judgement. It becomes impossible to move forward as the fear of making mistakes and failing becomes stronger than the drive to move forward through the struggle, reflect on what has happened and learn along the way. Good riding requires more than passion. It takes perseverance and grit. The most successful riders are not afraid of making mistakes as they know that is how they get better and grow. Successful riders have goals and make a plan to achieve them. When their path towards their goals is blocked they find ways around the road block and create a new path. New goals are always being set. There is no end to their journey as they know there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection implies an end to learning and growing. Successful riders see learning as limitless. The advice I give my riders wanting to have success in any level of riding is to have what author Carol Dwek calls a growth mindset. Keep looking at failures as opportunities to grow and understand that with hard work and dedication there will be success. The success is actually in the process of the learning. There really is no end point. The passion should be for learning about riding not for winning.

In the 2014 graduation speech at Naropa University Pema Chodron had great advice about failure. “I said, ‘I think the most important thing for you kids going out into the world right now is to know how to fail really well,'” Chodron says. “[Learn] the skill of knowing how to hold the pain of things happening that you really don’t want to be happening.”

Chodron calls the pain of failure the “rawness of vulnerability” and says we can train ourselves to welcome those feelings, rather than run from them, by seeing failure as an opportunity. “Something is going to come out of this,” she says. “Something new. This can end you up in a whole new place — a better place, a much more open place.”

When my riders finish an exercise I will sometimes ask them a simple but powerful question in order to get them’to shift their perspective from staying stuck in their mistakes to one of open mindedness. That question is, What is it that you like about the ride you just had? If this is the first time they have been asked this in a lesson they often get caught off guard and have trouble coming up with an answer. As coaches and trainers we often’ alk about the mistakes riders make in order to look for places to improve. Sometimes that way of talking can get the riders only focusing on what is going wrong instead on what is going right. If the focus is shifted to what is going right the riders begin to relax when they ride and build on what is working and let go of the judgement about their mistakes. So they build on the positive and look for possibilities instead of feeling shame. It is a great tool to use as a performance coach and as a life coach. This helps your client open up to what is happening instead of shutting down when there is a bump in the road.

Pema Chodron On Why Failure Is A Skill We Must Learn To Do Well? Own Video. Huffington Post. 14 Oct, 2014. Web 28 June, 2015

Dwek, Carol. Mindset: The Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006. Print