I was always told that I was too hard on myself and probably still am today, but I've learned to view success in a completely different way than wins, losses and made or missed shots. This is completely contradictory to how 95 percent of America views success.
The best definition I have ever come across is by John Wooden: "Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming." I had probably heard something similar to this from my parents several times, but it never clicked until I read this in his book, Wooden on Leadership.
I do believe that this is truly the best definition of success, yet is the hardest to instill in people you are trying to lead--your players, children, teammates or students. The most difficult part is getting them to realize what it truly means to try their hardest. Not just at the moment of competition, but equally as important in preparation. Until you can truly look at yourself and say that you tried your best, you will never be able to feel the "peace of mind" that comes with success.
I think the main reason people define success by objective goals is because it is much easier to do. It's much easier to just look at the scoreboard rather than reflect on your efforts and preparation in attaining a specific goal.
The flip side of this definition is being able to accept the fact that you did truly give your best effort and know that there is nothing else you could have done. Your performance cannot affect your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself. In The Winner's Manual, Ohio State football coach, Jim Tressel states "...we try to help our players avoid tying their definition of success to their performance. This prepares them for their lives ahead and teaches them that though their performance connects directly with their goals, their purpose is tied to who they are. ...We must never let goals, adversity--or even success--define us."This concept is extremely important for people to understand so that their thinking does not affect how they view themselves as a person. The late Gary Mack writes in Mind Gym, "What you think affects how you feel and perform." If you are so hard on yourself that one bad performance or a missed shot affects how you feel, it will create a domino effect. If you feel bad or have negative thoughts it is going to affect how you perform.
Take some time to sit back and reflect on the season. Did you truly give your best effort? If so, how do you feel about the season? Was it a success? If not, what could you have done better?
Don't let anyone else define your success.