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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Success or Failure

July 2011

I competed in a triathlon a few weeks ago. Or rather, I started to but did not finish. I was supposed to swim in the ocean, which I had never done before, with waves that were six to eight feet high and just a brief amount of time between each wave. While theoretically, I know how to do this, I had never actually practiced. Once I got into the water, I realized that I did not know what I was doing. I tried for a while but I was, literally, in over my head. So I turned around and walked back to the shore.

The question is: am I failure? Some people feel that I am because I did not complete the event.  For some people, if you have committed to something, you follow through, come hell or high water, as in my case. There is never any room for learning, for fear, for anything other than perfection. What was interesting, non-athletes had a harder time with my not finishing than athletes. It is easy to judge something when you do not know what goes into it. How many of us have said “Oh, man, he should have caught that ball!” or “What was he thinking with that play?” Until you are down on the field, in that situation, you really do not understand what is going on.

Other people feel that I succeeded because I attempted the race. Many people did not get through those waves. It was a very scary ocean that day even for experienced people. Many people never entered the water at all. I attempted something that was scary for me. I learned a great deal from the experience. I am going to get more coaching and try again. I feel that I succeeded, perhaps not the way I had planned, but this experience was definitely not a failure!!

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