Not long ago, a top quarterback was asked a fascinating question: What’s the most important skill for professional success? His answer: a very short memory….
He explained that whenever he made a mistake on the field, he only had a few seconds to move back to a mental peak performance state to deal with the next challenge. This would be impossible if he was still mentally fuming about his past mistake.
This is a great example of resilience: the ability to deal effectively with set-backs. Professional athletes only have a few seconds to absorb disappointments. We may often have more than a few seconds, but the necessary skillset remains the same.
The biggest pitfall for leaders is therefore to make a recoverable mistake, quickly followed by a stupid decision of epic proportions: all because of a long memory. Think of the executive losing his temper in a public environment: Instead of admitting the mistake, he remains in a negative emotional state, doubles down, and burns even more bridges. This behavior has got successful people like Elon Musk in hot water on Twitter multiple times.
I therefore always allow myself victim time: Whenever I face a set-back, I give myself the freedom to moan, whine, and gnash my teeth for a maximum of 15 minutes. After that, I resume ownership and get back to work.
What’s your strategy to deal with set-backs?
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/Alena Igdeeva