You don’t have to be a rabid sports fan to know that yesterday professional golfer Adam Scott lost the British Open title. “So what,” you might wonder, “there’s only winner, which means that plenty of other players lost, too.”
True, but the difference is that Scott enjoyed a lead that appeared unmatchable, much less unbeatable. He was four strokes ahead with four holes to play. Par those, he wins by four. Par half of them, and he wins by two. Yet startling all onlookers, he bogied 15, 16, 17, and 18. Meanwhile, Ernie Els birdied the 18th, and soon became the surprise winner.
As sad and disappointing as Scott’s collapse was, he’s likely to learn how to handle that intense pressure more effectively next time he is in contention. Fortunately, we can benefit too by applying these 3 prominent lessons.
ONE: There’s no such thing as a “sure thing.”
Regardless of how rosy our situation looks, we can’t start coasting at any time. Professionally, that’s dangerous and often deadly. Remember that sale you considered so “in the bag” that you started spending your commission too early? Or the job interview that went so well you told your family, “Start packing”? Just as Scott thought the engraver was already putting ADAM SCOTT on the trophy, defeat can be grabbed from the jaws of victory in everyday life, as an old sports cliche notes.
TWO: Your competition is not likely to stop trying when you’re in front.
Ernie Els didn’t think, “The famed Claret Jug is going to Scott. I’ll protect my runner-up status.” Despite a week that underscored Els’ putting woes, he gave every shot his best effort. He kept playing like a winner. And why not–he had won the British Open ten years ago, and had won two U.S. Opens. Justifiably, only a short time ago he entered golf’s coveted Hall of Fame.
Likewise, in our business and professional life, let’s expect that our performance will impress our competitors. However, we won’t intimidate others who want what we’re after.
THIRD: Focus on your assets, not your liabilities
Next time Adam Scott enters a tournament, he will want to remind himself, “I won the Australian Open when I was just nineteen. I won The Player’s Championship, which some golf writers label the ‘fifth major,’ quite early in my career.” In fact, he was taking that affirmative approach just minutes after the tournament, telling reporters: “Look, I played so beautifully for most of the week. I shouldn’t let this bring me down.”
That’s the most constructive approach for us after we lost a prize we thought we had. So, you gave a speech you weren’t satisfied with, presented to an audience that seemed a perfect fit for your topic. Move past that event. Remember the times when your audience members said afterwards that your message not only inspired them, but gave them action steps they needed. Or possibly your marriage dissolved. Plenty of them do. Look ahead, and you’re likely to find unprecedented happiness with a new spouse.
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