• Hilary Bryan

Lessons from a dull Saturday night: losing and failure

Last Saturday night I sat doing my knitting with half an eye on the Blues/Chiefs game on the TV - an insight into my thrilling social life.


The Chiefs won in the last minute or so and the Blues looked so dejected afterwards. They'd been ahead for most of the game, only to lose. But the Chief's Damian McKenzie is just too good. Even I intently watched his final try and dropped a stitch.


So, how do we cope with failure and losing, particularly if it's ongoing? Well, we get some clues from Daryl Gibson's thesis, Leading While Losing: Elite Coaches' Pespectives on Losing Streaks. He's an ex All Black and former coach of the Waratahs Super Rugby team. I ran into him at a recent workshop and got chatting about his research.


Top level sports coaches are like eveyone else; they suffer from self-doubt, withdrawl and a silo mentality when they're losing. But they had ways to cope we can adopt in the business world.

  1. Build a strong team at the start: it's vital when things aren't working.

  2. Be optimistic, rather than helpless.

  3. Be brutually honest when discussing failure.

  4. Reflect on the failure and diagnose why it's happening.

  5. Turn to personal support systems to maintain wellbeing and perspective.

They're all valuable. But I want to emphasise the last one. Whoever you are, Team Leader, CEO or top notch sports coach, having someone to turn to when you fail is vital.


I hope the Blues take this on board.

A lail on the lower rungs and Success on the top rung
Going down the failure ladder