When we have failed to achieve a goal or, more generally, our performance has not matched expectations, we can come up with excuses, seek justifications and attribute the failure to forces or situations beyond our control.
“It’s not my fault” becomes a way to leave self-esteem intact and preclude any analysis that would help improve in the future.
A reader of my blog brought to my attention this video of Julio Velasco, among the most successful sports coaches in volleyball history, speaking here about the culture of alibi to young college students.
Watch the video, in Italian, or read the text I have reported below in English, and then let’s have a brief thought together.
We became popular because we won a lot, and many times we are asked how to have a winning mentality. I say a banal thing:
By winning in what sense?
People usually think that winning is beating opponents, only. But winning also means overcoming one’s limitations: that is the first victory that one must try to do. Even when one is already of age and learns a new sport, and when one succeeds in it, for example, skiing, he gets gratification like winning a game.
Winning is also solving difficulties, and this is another victory both in life and in sports; and then there is victory over the opponents.
Unfortunately, we live these days in a culture where we claim to consider the whole of life as if it were a championship as if sports were adaptable to the whole situation of life. Then they tell you: you will be a champion if you eat such-and-such pasta, you will win in life if you drive this car and not that one.
We do a special, difficult job because it is not enough for us to do things well, we must do them better than others: if we do things well and then lose by one ball as happened in Barcelona 17-16 (Italy-Netherlands 2-3) in the last set, we have lost. Few people remember whether we lost by a lot or by a little. And that’s right, that’s the way the sport works.
It is not that if one makes one point less than another then he is a “loser,”. And to this, we must believe.
Let’s go into more detail about the meaning of sports in life.
Everyone talks about the importance of the educational role of sports. Still, after that, there is a fear of introducing agonism in schools, as if agonism were absent if we would not tell children: prepare for life because life is tough, so you must be the best, so study from an early age.
It’s about learning to win as in doing things well; you must make efforts, you must be efficient, and you must give importance to the crucial things, and to the less important ones when the stakes are extremely high. But it also helps to learn how to lose. Those who play sports know that you cannot win all the time. The exception is winning all the time.
I have always said that I am very proud of the national team that won two World Cups, two European Championships, etc., but I am equally proud of the team that lost the Barcelona Olympics. For one reason: because we knew how to lose.
When we lost, we didn’t say: it’s the referee’s fault, we’re unlucky, the federation didn’t support us, it’s the fault of a player, the coach, or the manager. We said: the opponent was stronger than us, and that’s it.
What is an alibi?
It’s explaining that I can’t do something not because I can’t do it, but because of something I can’t do anything about, I can’t change it. It’s not that I can’t win because I wasn’t the best, there’s always something bigger I can’t do.
We fought these alibis in every sense and so when we had to lose in a very painful defeat for us because it was the dream of our life, we said nothing. We have been preparing since that day to win again.
Now we have the great task of going to the Atlanta Olympics (summer 1996) and everyone considers us the favourite to win as happened in 1992. They even told us that we were the dream team, an expression created by the Americans for basketball, for the dream team of all Americans. I have already said it many times: we are not the dream team, we are a dream team. Dream of winning an Olympics and we will do everything to win it.
However, we will know that we have failed a goal and having failed a goal does not mean that we are in the shit of history.
And this is equally valid, especially for young people: you must try to win as much as possible but don’t believe those who tell you that the world is divided between winners and losers.
In my opinion, the world is divided between good and bad people. This is the most important division. Then among the bad people there are also winners, unfortunately, and among the good people there are unfortunately also losers.
In short, Velasco explains that life is an alternation between victories and defeats and that one can fail a goal without necessarily becoming a loser; he thus puts us in a position to face failure sheltered from that
What do you think?