Dr. Larry Lauer is a mental skills specialist at the USTA National Campus, and he knows a thing or two about success and failure. He works daily with elite juniors and professional players, helping them realize their opportunities and improve their mindsets.
Dr. Lauer joined the TENNIS.com Podcast to talk mental skills, and what his day-to-day job in Lake Nona, Fla. entails.
Here are five takeaways that can help you change how you perceive failure—no matter what career, goal or dream you're pursuing.
Everyone goes through it
What makes Dr. Lauer an expert isn't just his education and work experience: he went through failure, too. He wanted to be a pro baseball player and a live sports commentator. Instead his dreams fizzled out in his late teens. He fell into a tailspin, but being in college and finding an interest in psychology helped him forge a new path.
"Now my mission is to help other people to have what they need to be successful because I felt that maybe I missed out on some things," he says.
Mistakes will happen
Accepting that mistakes are going to happen, acknowledging them when they do, and letting the past go can help you move forward. Everyone, even Roger Federer and Serena Williams makes mistakes, so why can't you?
While Federer reaching the Wimbledon final in 2019 is by any means a huge success, his loss to Novak Djokovic after having two match points was a brutal blow. How he bounced back, and kept pushing onward, shows how tough the Swiss is.
One of the hardest challenges in pursuing anything, particularly a professional sports career, is the fear of failure. When you're doing all the right things and putting in so much effort, you expect the results, but it doesn't always work out that way.
"Can you trust in yourself and your plan and your team that it will get you there, that's the challenge," Dr. Lauer says. "A fear exists that if I do all these things and I don't get there, that's a huge failure."
It's a process
Failure is a part of learning, and instead of being perceived as a life-ruining roadblock, it can lead you to new doors of opportunity. All that you work you put in has not gone to waste because the journey has made you into a more complete person.
"It's a moment in time, it's one day at a point," Dr. Lauer says. "It's an experience I can use to get better. We talk about failing forward and using that as a way to get better."
Success can be hard too
While failure seems like the largest burden to carry, success tests mental strength, too. Oftentimes, athletes speed through their good results as they chase the next big win, and that can take a toll on mental health—especially if what follows is a dip.
"Taking the moment to appreciate what you've done is not being complacent," Dr. Lauer says. "Taking a moment to appreciate what you've done will fuel you for the long term."
No matter what dream you're chasing, the most important takeaway is to realize that failure is a part of life, and it can even be a good part because everyone is capable of having more than one dream.
"Realize that you have more than one mission in life," Dr. Lauer says. "And the mission changes."