Forget About It

It's hard to achieve your own greatness when you're burdened by your failings.

So what's (famous athlete's name here) really like? I get that question a lot because I've interviewed so many tremendous athletes during my career covering sports. Most were cool. Some were asses. They were different in many ways, so alike in others. One trait they all share, at least the truly great ones do, is the ability to forget.

In truth, they remember everything. Pitchers recall every pitch, the pitch count, and the situation. Quarterbacks remember the defensive scheme on almost every play. Golfers remember the distance, club, strategy, and even the freakin' weather conditions on every shot.

I once asked Tiger Woods to recount his three favorite shots. Without hesitation he cited each one, painting the picture with details: where he (and his closest combatant) stood on the leaderboard, the wind (direction and ferocity), how he'd played the hole (and fared) in previous rounds, the lie, his stance, any obstacles, the exact pin placement, the "safe" shot versus the "risky" play...get it?

You expect that from great athletes. But it's their ability to forget their failures and flubs—the bases-loaded strikeout, the blown coverage that led to a critical touchdown, the game-killing turnover in the waning seconds, the choked putt—that allows them to achieve greatness.

It's why they come back with the clutch hit, the game-saving tackle, the dead-eye jumper as the final buzzer blares, the forehand crosscourt winner on break point, the balls-out fairway wood from 250 yards that settles two feet from the cup on No. 18 on Sunday.

It's hard to achieve your own greatness when you're burdened by your failings. It's hard to fulfill your dreams when you carry your mistakes around in your pockets like old lint—in your wallet, in your mind. World-class athletes forget a mistake about as soon as it happens. Not immediately. They're still human. They lament their error, dissect it, process what they learned from it, then wad it up, and discard it like a useless scrap of paper. All in seconds; minutes, at most.

Many of you are still carrying around your shortcomings from last week, last month. From decades ago. You can't look forward if you're still looking back, especially if you're staring back at what went wrong, how you stumbled. Nothing good comes of that.

Stay fixated on past transgressions, and you'll walk right by that next opportunity—the next job, the next investment, the next friendship, maybe even the next love.

Mistakes happen. Shortcomings happen. Failure happens. We all fall down. But the great ones—those who strive for excellence, who dream about it, and work their butts off to achieve it—get up, and they don't look back. Instead, they forget, forget, and forget again.

There's too much good for you left to conquer, too much greatness yet to achieve. Don't walk right by it because you're looking back.

Onward,
Roy S. Johnson
Men's Fitness
Editor In Chief

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