Seventh Inning – Business and Baseball: It Hurts Worse When You’re Losing

Watch any sporting contest for long enough, and you’re sure to see at least one injury or near-injury. The runner stealing home collides with the catcher blocking the plate; the pitcher gets mowed down by a line drive; an outfielder runs into the wall. It happens – because they play hard and they play to win.

What’s interesting is that, many times, the same tumble that might earn one player a few days on the DL (disabled list), is nothing more than a shake of the head from another player. What’s the difference?

When you see a player get hurt sliding into home for the winning run, he’s more likely to leap to his feet and be carried off the field on his teammates shoulders rather than be carried off the field on a stretcher. The simple fact: It hurts worse when you’re losing.

The same is true for small business. If you pull an all-niter (more on that in another article) to get your first product ready to launch and it’s a rousing success (or for my department, producing a sales meeting and product intro that had the audience on its feet cheering), you’re less likely to complain of sleep deprivation. The adrenaline of a great play or a great program carries you through the discomfort. But if that same person, or group, pulls the all-niter for a product, product intro, or meeting that flops, they’ll feel a lot more tired – and discouraged.

Here’s what to do when you experience your own jaw-clenching mess-up:

  • Remind yourself that a setback is just that: A temporary obstacle, not a death sentence. Tomorrow is another day, another game, another chance to improve.
  • Look for the lesson. Dig deep into a missed play or loss to find the nugget of wisdom you can use to improve your next go-round. Did you find a great new widget for your blog? Did you increase your traffic? Did you make any new contacts? These are all achievements that will outlive the pain of a bad tumble.
  • Watch the instant replay. Replay that awful crash not to beat yourself up, but in order to avoid a similar pile-up in the future. Were there warning signs you missed? Did you know the outcome was inevitable? What can you do differently the next time around?

Losses hurt. But they don’t have to send you to the Disabled List for the rest of the season. Remind yourself that there is a win hidden in a defeat, and commit to finding and extracting the lessons. It’s all just part of the game. The only true failure is to fail to learn from your own mistakes.

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