To succeed you have to accept failure

YOU CAN ONLY WIN IF YOU LEARN TO ACCEPT FAILURE.

I have just finished watching the Australian Tennis Open final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. One thing that occurred to me during the match was the similarity between failure in sports competition, failure in business and losing in poker.

Winning is easy to cope with (although as I saw at the poker tables last night this can lead to a fatal over-confidence), but what about failure? We all hate it right? It makes us angry and sometimes affects us long after the event.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PERCENTAGES

In most sporting fields, including golf, tennis and Formula 1, we often hear commentators and players speaking of playing a percentage game. So assuming a good tennis shot percentage is around 85% it follows that 15% of the time we will not be successful. In Formula 1 they talk about driving at 95% and in poker a 60% chance of winning a hand is almost always the right percentage play. However in poker that means we lose 40% of the time and fate being capricious and cruel, sometimes that 40% comes all at once and we lose consecutive hands where we had a statistical advantage.

Business decisions are equally at risk of failure. No business decision has a 100% guarantee. Apple’s move into mobile technology looks brilliant now, but at the time there was no promise of success. Tesco supermarket’s move into the US market might have been a very well thought out strategy but it failed. So businesses equally make percentage plays.

WE NEVER FORGET A FAILURE

What happens when we fail? We remember it well and usually vividly because they upset and disrupt our equilibrium. We cannot get out of our minds the ‘what-if’s’and the ‘if-only’s’. When we win we celebrate how smart and talented we are and then promptly forget the success.

In poker when a player gets angry and upset losing a hand where they were a statistical favorite, we say they go on tilt. Tilt can last a few minutes, days or even weeks and it can adversely impact good decision making. Tilt also happens to executives and managers as well as businesses in general.

WHAT DOES THIS TELLS US?

We are surrounded by failure. Operating in any situation where the result is not guaranteed means we must be prepared to handle failure when, and not if, it arrives. What has this got to do with Andy Murray losing? Well I am not sure why he collapsed when he was 2-love up in the 3rd set. Perhaps one of his percentage shots missed and he just was unable to let it go. One thing is certain, Andy will need to let this relative (he got to the final after all) failure go, if he is to win another grand slam.

If you are interested in learning more about handling failure and as a by-product become happier and healthier in your work, then get in touch today.

Even World Champions need coaching!

I was talking to one of my clients (an ex-international sportsperson) recently and at one stage during our session she said “even world champions need coaches“. I was struck by how simple and yet profound this statement is. If you look at the field of sports I can’t think of a world champion or professional sportsperson or team that doesn’t have a coach – Usain Bolt, Rory McIlroy and Novac Djokavic all have coaches despite being superb world class professionals.

Why do elite sports people have coaches? Because they understand that their careers have been built on continuous learning and development. They never stop trying to find that extra fraction of a second or making that great decision in the moment. That is what makes them world class in the first place. When starting out young sports men and women are coached on the basics of their sport – focusing on the how to play. That coaching becomes increasingly more sophisticated as they improve moving from skill and techniques to strategy, mental preparation, coping with failure and dealing with success.

Most business owners are similar to elite sportspersons – they are totally committed to their business, they strive to be the best they can and they make sacrifices in their personal lives. I know for sure that when I was running my own business for 11 years, I was all these things and more. Yet I know I wasn’t a world class business owner and regret not having a coach during those years.

When is the right time for you to get your coach and become your own world champion?