Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 4/10/2023
Someone in my community is Estonian, and he serves in the equivalent of the reserves or National Guard. He told me once that he couldn’t schedule a certain day for our next coaching call because it was a national holiday, Victory Day.
I asked what victory was celebrated. He said, “Actually, we have no victories, but this was our least worst defeat.”
I don’t know whether he was kidding or not, I was laughing too hard, but even if the story is ben travato, it serves a good purpose. We can’t celebrate only victories, but should be focusing on the right behaviors, the right values, the correct attempts. While no one shouts, “Let’s go for the bronze!” in the Olympics, a Harvard rowing coach whose team finished last said, “There is nothing to be ashamed of finishing eighth best in the world in the Olympics.”
To foster innovation in one of my clients, I convinced the CEO to hand out an award at the annual company recognition dinner for “the best idea that didn’t work.” That way, he was supporting the behaviors he sought and not solely “victories.” When “victory” is the only condition meriting an award, many people simply don’t take the risk since everything else is considered failure.
All great inventors and innovators, from Edison to Fred Smith, Enrico Fermi to Jeff Bezos, Fleming to Salk, had a huge pile of “failures,” but all in the noble cause of seeking improved conditions.
In this prayerful time of year, when Easter, Passover, and Ramadan coincide, let’s hope that our efforts are always toward improvement and not self-protection, toward prudent risk and not ego-protection.
Let every day be “Victory Day.”
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt
Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday. —Wilma Rudolph
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory. —Mahatma Gandhi
I love to win; but I love to lose almost as much. I love the thrill of victory, and I also love the challenge of defeat. —Lou Gehrig