What’s the Lesson? Focus Less On Outcomes

There can be a lot of anxiety while on our journeys. Outcomes are uncertain, and this makes a lot of us nervous. Committing to finding a lesson regardless of the outcome can help keep us moving forward.





Taking on any challenge can be nerve-wracking. We take all the necessary steps to ensure our success, but it is tough to guarantee a positive outcome. No one wants to fail, and the fear of failure can keep us from committing to the pursuit of our goals. One way around this anxiety is to look forward to the lessons ahead. If we can learn to embrace the idea of a golden nugget of knowledge at the end of our journey, we can start to accept the possibility of any outcome.



We often identify with our successes and failures more than we realize. If we succeed, we are the kings and queens of our universes, if we fail, we are lower than scum. Okay, maybe we don’t go to those extremes, but we can dwell on whether something was good or bad.



While it is natural to have feelings around success or failure, we can add more value to our experiences by finding take-home lessons. The momentary bliss we feel when we complete a hard task makes us feel like we’re on top of the world. But, those moments depart as quickly as they arrive. The temporary nature of the feeling of success can leave us at a loss, despite having “won.” It helps to have something concrete to hang our hats on at the end of the day. Feelings and emotions will fade, but the lessons we take away will endure.



Every time a team wins a championship, they receive rings and a trophy as a reminder of what they achieved. But, that ring does not guarantee success in the future. Yes, it means that the team that this year was great, and they will be outstanding next year assuming most of the team’s roster remains the same. These organizations give themselves the best chance to repeat the past year’s performance by taking the lessons they learned during the season and applying them to the following season.




Staying focused after a successful championship year can be very challenging. Players can dwell on their achievements too long while the players they beat get right back to work and apply the lessons they took from their losses. That’s in part why it’s not uncommon to see a team that lost the championship win the following year.  And that’s why teams that enjoy prolonged success have players and coaches who say things like, “we’re going to enjoy this victory for a few days, but we’re already itching to get ready for next year.”


The willingness and desire to return to the grind of figuring out what works and what doesn’t is something that keeps them motivated well beyond the moments of winning and losing.





The health and fitness world is no different. The industry is driven by results and by people sharing their positive outcomes. Photos and stories of success are motivating for many of us. And sometimes we pay too much attention to achievement. We don’t always see how many times an Instagram fitness celebrity failed before they learned how to succeed. We don’t see all the diets that didn’t work, and we don’t hear about all the workouts they missed or when they got injured that one time. We just see results and want to have the same feeling with think they get from a positive outcome.



The same thing can happen on our fitness paths. We worry about whether we will fail or succeed. As we dwell on what the outcome is going to be, we can lose sight of all the signals and lessons along the way.



Maybe the low carb/high-fat diet we’re on isn’t working because something about it doesn’t agree with our bodies. High-intensity workouts are all the rage and are beneficial when it comes to body transformation. But, we might not realize we aren’t recovering well enough to make the most of such intense workouts.

It was always a goal of mine to be bigger and stronger. I would follow muscle building programs, and diets and some body part would break down and derail my progress. I would always chalk it up to something like “bad luck,” and I failed to see a simple pattern: My approach had a lot of holes in it and was leading to me getting hurt. I did minimal stretching and mobility work because I focused entirely on the result of being, how do I put this… I was too concerned with just being J-J-J-JAAAKKKED.


The lesson that took me several years to learn was that the human body needs balance and focusing solely on aesthetic outcomes was not a balanced approach. So, I started to focus on the information and lessons my body gave me during workouts and less on what it would feel like to have people see me with massive guns. The process has made me confident that I could pursue any specific goal in a balanced way with more consistent progress.



Now, understand that I’m not saying that we should stop wanting the feeling of a favorable result. That feeling alone is a huge motivator. I’m just suggesting that it will also benefit us to desire the lesson as much as the positive outcome. The result is what we aim for, but the lesson is what sets us up to meet our goals more consistently.




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