I admit it. I had to Google the term “March Madness” to understand what all the anticipation was about*. I love sports like the next person, but I’ve never truly understood all the excitement around March Madness. Passionate sports fans everywhere are filling out brackets with names of basketball favorites, money is put forward as indication of confidence, and adrenaline levels are rising fast. Sports fans everywhere are investing in the belief that their favorite teams will succeed and deliver against an expectation of success.
So, what happens when your teams lose? How do you accept failure and keep your composure and reputation in tact in the face of great stress, frustration and disappointment?
There is no personal brand strategy for reputation building that doesn’t address the inevitable frustrations and setbacks of life. While success is always our goal, failure is often reality. I have one client who admits that he is an “expert at failure”. He is the President of a very successful technology company and is viewed as an accomplished business leader by many who know him. Yet, he insists that his ability to navigate complex situations, deal with difficult people and grow an enterprise comes as much from his understanding of stress and failure as it does from what works.
How do you view failure? Do you see it as a setback or as an opportunity to learn which way doesn’t work? Here are some tips to learn about your personal brand and uncover opportunity in the face of setbacks and failure:
- Truly assess the situation from all angles. Was there something you could have foreseen if you’d been clearer about your intent? Did you have all the data to make a good decision (were you rooting for a team just because you liked the uniform colors but didn’t really know their free throw shooting record)?
- Take accountability for where you fell short and what you could have done differently. This is often the toughest part for most of us. When you can “own” your role in a situation, you can find it easier to see things clearly and eventually move on.
- Who, in your network, was giving you good advice? Who offered you incorrect guidance? This will help you know whom you should turn to next time.
- How much of your decision making and action was emotion-based and how much was motivated by logic? Did you over think the situation and neglect your gut feeling? Often times, it is our intuition that guides us in the right direction and our head gets in the way of doing what we know in our hearts is right.
Winning and failure are two sides of the same coin. In every sport scenario, there is a 50/50 chance you will win or lose (unless there is a tie), and that means the odds are split, usually. In business, we strive for win-win situations in relationships, transactions, projects and interactions. When both parties gain, in business, we consider that a successful endeavor.
This March Madness season, if you participate in the excitement of the games, remember that your ability to deal with success is as important to your reputation as your ability to navigate failure.
As the famous basketball coach, John Wooden, once said, “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.”
*According to Wikipedia, “march madness” also refers to the main part of the breeding season of the European hare. I thought that was interesting … and a bit funny.