#3 Excuses Don’t Teach Success

“You don’t learn from your excuses.  You learn from your mistakes”

 I was listening to Louis Howes podcast today, as I do religiously every time a new one airs, and during the interview he was conducting, it was said that “You don’t learn from excuses”  It wasn’t a main point of conversation, and I almost dismissed this quote without a second thought.  Then it hit me, it really really hit me.  We don’t learn from excuses. 

Making the transition from skater to coach, I am starting to realize all of the obnoxious habits I used to have as an athlete and as a student.  The most obvious one is excuses.  I hear them everyday and multiple times from a handful of students.  Athletes strive to achieve and to win.  When we don’t perform an element cleanly, we are losing and have a miniature fail.  Even worse is when you are in a lesson and fail in front of your coach.  (Maybe we use excuses be a subconscious protection against judgement from others?)  

As driven athletes, we don’t want to fail so instead of taking responsibility, we tend to blame the failure on an outside factor such as the ice condition or our blades.  In most scenarios; however, it was/is most definitely the skaters error.  Although accepting the fact that we may have made a mistake is hard swallow, it also opens up a door of opportunity for improvement that the skaters who make excuses don’t have.  If you skate in a group or around other skaters almost everyone can pick out the one skater who always has an excuse.  This skater is probably always the weakest skater as well.  If you are thinking there is no one like that, re-evaluate yourself and your skating.  If you are always making excuses, you have created your own roadblock to success with the excuses that you make.  If you are always blaming errors on something or someone else you will never correct what you are doing wrong and therefore not progress in your skill.  Granted there are times where ice or skate/blade equipment is not ideal and make things more difficult, but it is usually not something that will make or a break an element.  

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A perfect example of this was I just recently had an adult skater who was struggling with one foot glides.  After the session they asked me to look at their blades to see if they were aligned straight because “there is no way that it should be this difficult to go in a straight line after the amount of practice time involved.” (45 min 1 time a week, thats being generous, for 3 months)  I examined his blades and one blade was perfectly fine and the other was off just by a hair.  I gave him the name and contact info for someone much more qualified who could take a look at his skates and help him realign the blades if needed. The following week when we began the lesson I had asked if they had gotten their skates adjusted.  They replied, “No, no.  I just need to man up and practice” I was so thrilled to hear that because they had accepted responsibility instead of blaming the skates.  This forced the skater to listen and focus more on the corrections I was giving and also to make different adjustments on their body placement in order to glide in a straight line.  After 10 minutes working on it with a new mindset, they performed a beautifully straight 1 foot glide.  That was proof.  You don’t learn from excuses, you learn from your mistakes.

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