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Success Harmony Newsletter
"WHOSE FAULT IS YOUR SUCCESS?"
athletes at the top of their game is always exciting, inspiring, and fascinating.
It also tends to be full of lessons related to success and failure. How
do they respond to challenge and pressure? How do they deal with an unexpected
turn of events? How can their lessons from the world of sports be turned
into something all of us can use in the rest of our lives?
lesson still sticks with me from watching the 2004 Summer Olympics. Of
course, there was the lesson of "practice as a team, don't just assume
that having star individuals will be enough" from watching the US
relay team run fast to nowhere as they couldn't figure out how to pass
to one another. There were lessons of perseverance from a long-overdue
Olympic win by the superb Moroccan long distance runner El Guerrouj who
waited through multiple Olympic games to reach for his glory. But the
one lesson that stuck with me the most was watching Kerri Walsh and Misty
May, the US women's beach volleyball duo, right after their win. Both
of these women quickly acknowledged their own happiness with how they
played, but they immediately moved on to shower the other with praise.
Although, by the accounts of many, Kerri Walsh was the star, she never
behaved as anything other than one part of a strong team. She had nothing
but words of recognition for Misty May. Vice versa, Misty May spent her
on-camera time singing Kerri Walsh's praises.
of any type, be it a marriage, a leader-follower relationship, or a team
of coworkers, it is tempting to want to take credit and deflect the blame.
About intimate relationships, we say that they are 50-50. Give and take.
I give, you take. But what happens when I do nothing, waiting for you
to do your half before I do mine, and you do nothing while you wait for
me to do my half before you do yours? Nothing, other than there begins
to be a lot of resentment. I complain about you, you complain about me,
we're both busy being righteous and we begin to forget that there was
a team that was supposed to be working together. What is the way out?
is to take responsibility. Step two is to reward the other for the smallest
try. When something goes wrong, I look at what I could do differently
next time to get a different result. If the other person on my team is
open to feedback about what they could do differently, we can talk about
that, too - but only if and when I have shown my openness to taking responsibility
on our team try, even if it is less than what we were hoping for, we need
to reward. Jump up and down with joy, give a hug, give a chocolate bunny,
quit nagging, promise a night at the movies. Whatever. Big or small, make
sure your team member knows you appreciate their try, not just the final
results they get. Funny enough, the more we appreciate and recognize others,
the more others seem to want to do the same for us, too.
to take responsibility for when things don't work and the ability to recognize
others on the team seem to me to be a major determinant of success in
life and business. At one point, I had the good fortune of interviewing
a number of highly successful business women. Some of these women were
in top executive positions in Fortune 500 companies. All of them were
happily married and had children. There were a few patterns that these
women had in common. One of the striking similarities among them was how
they recognized the people in their lives, whether we spoke about their
husbands, people reporting to them or people they reported to. I heard
very little of, "well, if it hadn't been for this jerk, I would have
been much further along." I heard much of, "wow, am I ever so
lucky. This person did this for me, that other person had given me a hand
when I needed it, and my husband challenges me but is my greatest supporter."
With each and every interview, I wondered how much luck these women really
had and how much of their "luck" was simply a product of their
making it very easy and pleasant for people to want to show them the way
How are you
in your own interactions with the people on your "team"? Your
spouse, children, parents, coworkers, boss, the people who bag your groceries
so that you can get home sooner? When results are less than you want them
to be, do you take a look at what you can take away from the experience
and do better next time, or do you immediately go to blame the other people
on your team? When something goes well, do you say, "hey, ain't I
great?" or do you share the limelight? I would only hope that the
image of Kerri Walsh and Misty May sharing the Olympic gold so happily
will encourage both me and you to remember to pass on less of the blame
and more of the praise.
sunshine and smiles,
people more than they deserve."
"There are two primary
choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility
for changing them."
"A talented trumpeter
who toots his own horn winds up playing to an empty theatre. A talented
trumpeter who lets others recognize his talent winds up a legend."