We can’t be brilliant every time

Don’t beat yourself up if you have an off day. We are surprised when we fail to hit the heights at something we are normally good at. We didn’t make the sale. I didn’t get the job. We lost the match.

We shouldn’t be surprised. We are humans not robots. There are days when it doesn’t work out – sometimes because we’ve goofed, but often because of competitive pressure or outside factors. Remember when we used to get excited about biorhythms? Perhaps I was having a triple critical last Thursday.

Why have I gone all philosophical this month? Partly because of my commitment to Mote, and reminding everyone that meetings should be a team game, where we compensate for individual weaknesses by picking balanced teams to maximise the chances of success. But partly because – after many decades – I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that I play bad golf as often (or more so) as good golf. I was starting to dread playing in case I had a bad day. Now I’m telling myself just to enjoy the exercise, the company and just being out there swishing in the fresh air!

After all kids learn to walk, not by standing up, but by falling over. We learn more from mistakes than when we get it right. Winning feels good, but we don’t always know why we have won. If we lose, it is useful – as well as therapeutic – to find out why. I’ve always offered agencies post mortem sessions to try and explain why they didn’t win the pitch. They might well have missed out because of poor chemistry or creative that the client didn’t like. Very often on the other hand they haven’t won because another agency performed better. Blaming the timing, the venue, or the unfair client can be a natural reaction. But it’s not helpful – any more than having a go at the referee or umpire.

What is a problem is losing the war, not the battle. There’s a difference between a poor press conference and a failed launch. Losing a sale is a not as bad as losing a customer. A bad meeting is bearable – being fired by a client less so. And this is where failing and not beating yourself up pays off. You can learn – and live to fight another day.

Kipling was write about treating the twin impostors – Triumph and Disaster – exactly the same. I’d just add that being a bit less excited about triumph, and a lot less depressed about disaster could be really helpful. Why do I know this? Because I have always been the worst offender.
This is David’s July article for the Marketing Society.
Read more at https://www.marketingsociety.com/the-library/we-can%E2%80%99t-be-brilliant-every-time#6GAUHx2wKMYkL5T0.99