I like those television documentaries on the NFL channel called “A Football Life.” I especially like the ones about coaches. I learn something new with every coach who is profiled.
Whether they’re a coach or player, though, I’ve noticed something each successful person has had in common: They lose well.
For some reason, those who win in the end have an ability to treat a setback like a speed bump rather than a car accident.
I say this because just the other day I screwed up a meeting. I was late because I scheduled it wrongly on my calendar. It was a late meeting, so after I messed up I went home, stood in the back yard and threw a tennis ball for my dog. The whole time, though, the voices started getting to me. They were saying how irresponsible I’d been with my friend’s time, how I wasn’t wired to lead or manage, how I was too much of an artist and so on and so on.
The reality was all things were going well.
There was no reason to panic. We’d overshot our first-quarter goals by 50% and I was wrapping up a new book. Failure was nowhere in sight, but my mind was nevertheless causing drama.
Turns out my friend forgave me and thought nothing of it, so all was fine there, but the real cost wasn’t from the missed meeting, it was from the voices in my head. I’d turned a speed bump into a car accident.
I remembered the documentary about Jimmy Johnson, though, and how he had to stand there on the field and endure more than a few losses his first season as coach of the Cowboys, and how he had to trust his plan to work and his team to come on board. He had to forgive himself of his mistakes, stay positive and not let the pressure get to him.
I stood there in the yard thinking, okay, are you going to treat this like a speed bump or a brick wall?
Truth is everybody experiences setbacks. Everybody makes mistakes. But how we react to those events is what separates those who succeed and allows them to accomplish their goals.
The next morning I got up, made my to-do list and pushed on. It’s a long season, after all. You’re going to drop a couple games on the way to the Superbowl.