I did not get to go to the big awards dinner. I did not get the big bonus. I did not get written up in the company newsletter. No one on my team did. We did not have a successful product launch. In 1986, no one was interested in sleek stand alone ATMs. The successful ATMs were those mounted in brick walls of respectable buildings. We worked just as hard, if not harder than the “successful product team.” That’s life. That’s business. That’s sports. With the NCAA basketball championship this week, there were wins, losses and upsets. The losing teams put in just as much hard work, competitive spirit and heart as the winning teams. While one team wins, the other builds resilience. That’s why the practice of everyone get’s a trophy with children’s sports program or even the practice of not keeping score denies an opportunities for growth and development. This excerpt from a Jennifer Kahn article about Moneyball and Blindside writer Michael Lewis describes it best for me:
Lewis’s agenda for his daughters is complex. On the one hand, the author of several books about professional sports and Wall Street is, not surprisingly, genuinely interested in winning. On the other hand, he sees sports as a pathway to understanding resilience, which means that the losses are as important as the wins. “Val’s putting them in positions where they fail, and then teaching them how to come out of it again. And they remember it. You fail, and then you get over it. You fail, and you fight through it. You write crappy things, and you say, ‘I’ll come back and redo it.’ You develop that skill here, and you can take it anywhere.” –
Sports lessons are business lessons. These lessons make you stronger. Not everyone on the team is good, not everyone on the team plays fair, not everyone on the team cares about you. The same is true in business. You will not always be on the winning team. There may be someone on the team who is directly responsible for the loss. That doesn’t matter. You are a team. Resilience.You understand winning isn’t everything. In business, you will not be on the award winning team each and every time, you are not going to be on the stellar project each and every time. But there is a next time followed by another and another and another. Sports teaches, win or lose its how you play the game. That lesson is important in business because how you play is who you are and who you are will keep you in the long game. Life is a long game.
P.S. My Alma Mater, the University of Tennessee is no longer in the men’s NCAA basketball championship, but I still proudly wear my orange jacket. Go Vols.