On the job, you may need to change your perspective of success and failure. Sometimes you may be blamed for an unwinnable situation. To illustrate this point, let me take you back in time to a track and field meet.
At the time, I was set to run the 400 meter dash. As you may know, this is exactly one lap around the track. Going into the event, I had one of the best times, so I was in lane one. This meant that I started where the finish line would be at the end of the race.
All of the other competitors were in staggered lanes, in order to ensure that we all ran the same distance.
But something looked a little off to me. It seemed like everyone was really far away. But there wasn’t much time to consider the situation before the starting pistol erupted.
Right away, I could tell that I was in trouble. No matter how fast I ran, I couldn’t keep up everyone else. I think I finished sixth and the surprising thing was that I ran a good time.
The rest of the field was incredibly fast, unbelievably fast. I couldn’t figure out how I had run so well yet done so poorly against what appeared to be average competition.
It turns out my suspicion at the starting line was correct. The official had accidentally lined up everyone according to the starting line for the 800 meter run. As a longer race, it had a bigger stagger in lanes 2-8.
As a result, I was the only runner who had run 400 meters. Everyone else ran less, which explained their phenomenal times. They had an unfair advantage over me.
In this instance, the mistake was discovered and eventually I was named the winner while the rest of the field was disqualified.
But in some situations, there aren’t people on the sidelines determined to figure out what happened. Your company may find itself the victim of an unfair advantage:
- You spend hours preparing a bid on a contract only to lose it to a competitor who has a relative on the decision making team;
- On your industry’s biggest sales day of the year, the flu keeps much of your team sick at home;
- You struggle to match a competitor’s low prices, not knowing that the sudden drop is part of a liquidation strategy.
In all of these cases, you are challenged and likely beaten by an unknown situation. Failure can lead to panicked decisions and that can be dangerous to your bottom line.
You must Clear the Path of the fear that you were beaten because you weren’t good enough. Yes, sometimes this will be the case. But often your success or failure has little to do with your company. So don’t turn your organization upside down if you think you’ve been the victim of an unfair advantage. Winning may have been impossible.
Instead, study your processes and your team. If they both seem to be good, then you should relax. There will likely be another opportunity to win very soon. Let your belief that you did your best extinguish the flames of doubt that may be burning in your mind.