The Greatest Teacher

How do you perform under pressure? How do you perform under emotional pressure? When something goes wrong, you’ve failed, how do you react?

As a basketball coach I have to admit that I have had experiences when things were not going right and things got emotional, and I didn’t respond in the best way. If a referee makes a bad call in a basketball game that has a negative impact on my team at a key point in the game, will it make things better for us if I lose my mind on the ref? Is there a chance if I scream and yell that maybe he will apologize and change his call? Of course not.

But on the other hand what negative could come from it? To begin with, that negative emotion is absorbed by my team. I’m showing my team, through my actions, what is acceptable. The referee isn’t going to be looking to give me any breaks or do me any favors going forward, maybe even beyond this one game. 

I’m not writing this to talk about basketball referees and how you should react if they make a call you don’t agree with. What I want to look at is how we can take all of our experiences, both good and bad, and learn from them so that when we face a similar circumstance in the future we will be prepared to deal with it in the best possible way. 

Whether we are in a team environment or as an individual we can look at both our good and bad experiences and learn from them. In both cases there are emotions tied to the experience that we need to be able to work around. In a positive outcome we may be flooded with positive emotions that give us the false belief that everything went right and we don’t have to think anymore about it. In a negative outcome you may feel that nothing went right and you don’t even want to think about it anymore. But the reality is that we have much to learn from both outcomes that can transform our futures.

As an individual, as a family, as a business or as a team this is an exercise that could have a major impact on your future outcomes. 

After an event, either positive or negative, take the time to learn from it. Capture what the situation was, what are the facts? What about it wasn’t great and could get better? What worked? Strategize about how to make sure it happens for the better next time. 

Dan Sullivan talks about “The Greatest Teacher”  in his podcast INSIDE Strategic Coach. He suggests making three small boxes on a piece of paper to work through the situation:

  1. What Worked – This should open the flood gates and allow everyone to appreciate the there were things that worked
  2. What Needs to Improve – Here you can identify the problems, the things that didn’t work, so that you can improve on them for the future
  3. Strategies for the Future – This will make you alert to all situations in the future. You may not have an identical situation, but by going through this exercise you will be aware of how you can apply this experience to others situations in the future 

Dan says that by going through this process you can create a positive momentum for the future and not be bogged down by the past. 

In my basketball example I have two opportunities to go through this. First I could sit down with my assistant coaches and have a discussion and secondly I could go through the process with my team. This would allow us to look at the situation and the outcome. It would allow us as coaches and as a team to strategies on how we would react to a similar situation in the future which will hopefully bring us a better outcome.

Today in the entrepreneurial world failure is often looked at almost as a badge of honor. We hear the quotes: 

“Fail Fast”

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again”

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success”

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something”

The last quote in this list is key because for anything good to come out of failure, we have to learn from our mistakes. Otherwise, failure is just failure. 

As I have mentioned earlier, this is an exercise that should be used after both successful and unsuccessful outcomes so that we can learn from each of them. But this is an exercise that will allow us to look at our failures to learn from them so that we can be successful in the future. 

“Your experience when you’re having intense [positive or negative] emotions is the greatest teacher you can possibly have. Channel it and you’ll always come up with amazing breakthroughs.”

– Dan Sullivan

If you’d like to learn more about our mastermind groups where as a collective group we help each other learn from our combined experiences click the button below:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.