The F Word

The F Word

Let's talk about the F word. 

No, not that one. The other one - Failure. 

Failure may seem like a strange way for us to kick off the new year, goals and resolutions in hand, but Dr. Jenny Susser is here to remind you that you should be failing. A lot. More than you're comfortable with. In fact, it's more important than succeeding. (What?)

“We have an allergy in our culture; we are allergic to failure and it shouldn’t be that way. I want you to fail. I tell the high performing individuals that I work with that they should be failing at up to 50% of their goals,” she advises.

This high rate of failure doesn't mean you're setting such high goals that you never achieve them. It means that you're setting so many goals that many of them naturally aren't checked off. 

Read this next: 'I'm Afraid My Riding Progress Will Be Lost' 

"You don’t want to be failing at half of your big, giant goals. I want you setting enough goals that you are having lots of little failures. Set a goal for every single ride. Maybe you even have a goal for each piece of the ride (the warm up, the training, if you are learning something new, the warm down, the communication, the teaching). There are lots of different ways to split up each ride, but I want you to have a goal for each ride and I want you to attach it to something.

When I ride my horse, I have trained myself that I pair my goal setting time with tightening the girth. Every time when I tighten the girth before I get on, that is when I set my goal for the ride. Think about your goal - it takes five minutes. Think about what you want to get of your ride that day. " 

We want these frequent, small failures because that's when we learn. These frequent, small failures can happen in a low pressure environment, like schooling at home, in a way that allows you to digest what went wrong. 

"We don’t learn when we do something well. When we do something well, we’re cracking open the champagne and we’re laughing and joking and saying, 'My horse was so great, I had nothing to do with it.' We really learn a lot more when we fail. When we fail, we go back because we want to know what we did wrong and what we need to do differently. We then have the opportunity to renegotiate what we’ve been doing so that we can create a better pattern, learn something new, or take on a new skill. You want to fail because failure is the great teacher."  

Next time something in your ride doesn’t go as planned, don’t stress about it. Embrace it! Look at failure as a constructive exercise. Recognize what went wrong so that you can try to fix it. Experiment with new approaches, new thought processes, or new learning techniques to get at your problem from different angles. This way, you’ll be able to learn all that you can from your mistakes, and it will make you a stronger rider. Failure isn’t something you need to sidestep. Instead, get excited about it. 

Is fear or anxiety holding you back? Learn how to become more powerful than you fear with Dr. Jenny Susser's Masterclass. 

Photo by Jenny Chok for