Jones Business Solutions Ltd | A perspective on losing
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A perspective on losing

A perspective on losing

2023 so far has delivered some wonderful moments in top level sporting events. Here in New Zealand these have showcased many of our top teams. It’s interesting to note that while not all of them have been the final winner, we have cheered them on, been proud of them and celebrated their successes with them. (Think the NZ Football Ferns, The Warriors, the Black Ferns, the Breakers – oh and the All Blacks too!)

This got me thinking about winning – and losing in a business context. Here’s my take on how we can view losing in a positive way while running our business.

Losing is not failure

Deciding what winning and losing means to you personally and for your business is a great place to start. Winning awards, hitting profit goals, obtaining fast growth spring to mind. If these objectives aren’t achieved is that failure? What about if your values and vision to genuinely help others are as (or more) important than financial success? Setting targets and a plan to achieve them is sensible business practice. Acknowledging that not all of those will be met is important too.

Think about this scenario. 4 businesses in the running for a prestigious industry award – are the 3 that don’t win failures? I think not! Preparing and submitting their award entry includes reflection on growth, achievements, team contributions, customer stories – and so much more. Both winners and losers should pause and reflect on the process and what they can change and plan for next.

Top athletes and sports teams have short-term and long-term plans. Training for the Olympics 4 years away requires focus and strategic vision; and both short- and long-term goals. There will be occasions where not every event results in winning, and in fact may not be planned to do so. The losing times help keep that longer held goal top of mind. Being able to tweak training schedules, working on mental motivation, other aspects like nutrition, and rest and recovery all have their place. The same applies to your business – keep an objective eye on all the moving parts and adjust goals and your plan over time. Sometimes it is just not a good day/week/month/year – be realistic – and keep going!

A support crew

Sportspeople don’t achieve success in isolation, they have an important crew around them. This includes their family and friends – not just the coach and physio. They all have input into helping achieve better results, how to manage injuries and other setbacks. In business consider who your team is or could be and how and when they will provide support:

  • The owners – this might be yourself and your spouse – be aligned with the overall direction and vision for the business. Talk to each other! Look at all the results – your financial reports are only part of the story!
  • The management team – make sure they are in tune and know the business plan inside out. Share your passion with them – don’t assume they will just ‘get it’.
  • All the staff – so. So important to have a happy and motivated workforce. Spend time on leadership training and staff development from the ground up. Recognising diversity and everyone’s own unique strengths as individuals can open so many new opportunities.
  • Customers and suppliers – have the tough and meaningful conversations. Be honest and a good listener. You can learn so much by doing this effectively.
  • Industry and professional specialists – involve experts in your business decision-making. Having our ideas challenged provides real insights and alternative options to move ahead. In sport we continually see new training techniques, new technology, improved equipment, different mental strategies. The same applies to your business. Receiving and acting on expert advice will keep your business progressing in a forward direction.

Celebrating

How do we respond to winning? How do we respond to losing? In sport we like to see humility when winning, graciousness when losing. Do we celebrate our wins and learn from our losses? Or do we become complacent or arrogant when we win and bitter or defensive when we lose? How do we cope with the emotions that come with winning and losing? And how do we use them to motivate ourselves and others? Are you a good sport?

Both winning and losing are temporary states. They don’t define who we are or what we do. They don’t rule out change for the future. A win or a loss is just one moment in time, one outcome amongst many possibilities. During 2023 we have seen some highs and lows with teams – often a loss creates huge disappointment – it’s what we choose to do next (individually and collectively) that really matters.

Choosing to celebrate both small and big wins in business keeps us motivated and moving forward. Acknowledging both individual and team contributions can play a big part in improving morale and a happy workplace. It is all to easy to only focus on the negative aspects when something has failed – noting the things that performed well is so important – and helps for the plan to re-try or change parts of the process to do better next time.

To sum up

Losing is just a perspective. Let’s rethink how we view losing and how we respond to it. Remember that losing is not failure, but feedback. How you choose to deal with it is up to you. Shift your perspective to a positive and wider thinking one – you might surprise yourself with what comes next!

‘I didn’t lose the gold. I won the silver.’  
Michelle Kwan, Olympic figure skater