“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar

Recovery is a word that is used in many areas, especially when it pertains to someone who is battling with an addiction of some kind, or is coming out of a serious surgery or medical treatment. I have had family members go through some severe addiction problems over the years, have close friends and family who have had major, sometimes life-threatening surgery, and the word recovery is used to describe the state of getting better, or responding to the treatments they have received.

In economic terms, we have experienced a major recession over the past 5 years, or so, and some economists and politicians will tell us that we are now in a recovery – meaning the economy is improving, or on the upswing.

I recently played 18 holes of golf, and while I scored horribly, and was incredibly inconsistent, the two shots I will remember the most from the more than 90 (ouch!) I took that day, were shots that were taken from very difficult lies, or situations (both of which were my own fault). In fact, nearly all recoveries, whether in the physical, professional, economic, or recreational aspects of our lives, are usually as a result of some action, often ill-advised, we took which led to the necessity of a recovery.

In my recent golf game, each shot had a “conservative” or “easy” next shot, which would have, in essence, cost me a stroke, or hurt my score a little bit. However, there was also a risky, more dangerous option which, if executed properly, would salvage my score on each hole. The risk of hitting another tree, or knocking the ball into the water, essentially ruining the hole for me, was there in both circumstances, but in these cases, the potential rewards were each worth the risk. (After all, I wasn’t playing in a tournament with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, or anything significant. I was just out playing golf with friends!).

We have had all heard the saying “success is measured in how often you get up after you fall down” or some variation of that quote. To me, success is all about recovery. That is what Ziglar’s quote (above) represents. What you do after you fail (because we are all going to fail – a lot, in our lives) is the measure of success I notice in life. If I hit a bad shot on the golf course, success is when I recover and hit a good shot to get myself out of trouble.

In baseball, a great hitter will fail 70% of the time, so the majority of the time he comes up to bat, he is following a failed attempt. Even a great basketball player fails half the time that he shoots the ball.

Life is very similar to golf, baseball, basketball, or other sports. I guess that is why I love sports so much. Playing sports for most of my life has taught me how to deal with adversity, how to work in teams, how to prepare and work hard, and most importantly, how to recover after failing.

It is significantly better to try and fail at something than it is to not try at all. Again, we’ve all heard some semblance of that quote, and that is because it is true.

I had a sales manager years ago who taught me to love hearing the word “no” because it meant you were getting closer and closer to the word “yes”. Every time I asked for the sale, and the prospect said “no”, I knew I was one step closer to closing a deal with another prospect. That held up over the years, to the point where losing a deal, or even losing a client, does not bother me nearly as much now as it did when I was early into my career 25 years ago.

Back in the mid 2000’s, the baseball coach at Cal State Fullerton, George Horton, brought in a psychologist to work with the team. They were extremely talented, and were struggling. The psychologist introduced the concept of flushing the previous experience, whether good or bad, down an imaginary toilet, where it was gone, and would not have an impact (especially negative) on the current situation. The team turned things around, and went on to the College World Series.

Success, now, to me is all about the effort and results on the next shot, after putting myself in a bad situation on the previous shot. I can get angry, lose my concentration, and hit another bad shot, or I can simply flush the bad experience down the toilet, and focus on how I am going to recover.

The next time things go south in your life, whether in a relationship, at work, with a client, or on whatever your “golf course” is, remember that you will ultimately be measured by how you recover from your failures, and not on your failures themselves. Life is about recovery. What you do next after you mess up (and mess up you will!) is how you will be known, and remembered.