Published January 20, 2015 by Dan Presser
Consider this a group therapy session. Golf legend Lee Trevino knew his way around a green and a good quote. So, when Packers fans all over the state collectively grasped their throats at the end of the NFC Championship game, the words of Trevino dropped into my mind like a well hit 7-iron. The golf great once said, "We all choke, and the man who says he doesn't choke is lying like hell. We all leak oil." This is from a guy who won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship twice. Yet, he knew we sometimes get in the way of our own success, even when we've had plenty of wins.
One of the reasons I've always loved sports analogies is because of the way athletic preparation translates to doing business. Now, I'm guessing many of the Packers would argue whether or not they "choked." In fact, there's a whole industry based on the psychology of "choking." However, it's pretty clear the entire team, and its fans, agrees it was a devastating loss. It hurt. And, it happens. I'm not sure if it happens to the same degree in most businesses. Still, we've all faced those losses that stick with us for days, weeks, and sometimes months. Maybe it was a huge project our proposal didn't win, maybe it was a client that wasn't quite as pleased with our work as we had hoped...the list goes on. Sometimes we think we have the win in hand and it spirals out of control. Those can cause the ugliest lacerations.
Championship teams and good businesses don't let those cuts lead to infection. They use it to fuel their passion to succeed again. Winston Churchill said, "Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." Winners know we all make mistakes and defeat is normal. They don't wait for the pain to go away. Successful teams and businesses look at the scar and they correct the problems that led to the mistake, even when it still hurts. They look inside and correct the things they can control. In fact, some psychologists say when we lose focus on ourselves and the "now" we are led to the "choke." Our minds wander to the impending success and what it will bring. Then, our focus blurs and performance suffers. I know it's happened to our business. It takes persistance to return our focus back to the important work at hand. Just ask the Seakhawks. Their machine was "leaking oil" for about 56-minutes. It took them about 4-minutes to plug the leak.
Even though some of the Packers sounded like it would take a while to bounce back from this loss. I'm confident they have the kind of organization that started repairing their leaks the very next day. It's one of the reasons they've given fans more than 20 years of winning football. It's also a reason why they, and the Seahawks, are good examples for us to learn from as we fix the leaks we have in our businesses. Our therapy session is over.