Like many people in Australia I’ve recently followed Jarryd Hayne’s NFL career. For those of you unfamiliar with the Australian’s odyssey, Hayne was a top Australian rugby league player who in 2014 decided to give up his lucrative comfort zone and try his hand in the United States. Remarkably he was selected to play for the San Francisco 49ers and two weeks ago he made his NFL debut.

Unfortunately Hayne’s first touch in the NFL was a fumble. And it was a big, embarrassing one. It’s the sort of stuff that would make us mere mortals quickly adopt the foetal position and start praying for the whole thing to be a bad dream. Much to his credit Hayne dusted himself off and finished up playing a very credible debut game.

However Hayne’s efforts pale in comparison to those of his (also rookie) head coach, Jim Tomsula. Three weeks ago I’d never heard of Tomsula but in that short time he has already impressed me as an inspirational leader. In a sport where some of the most famous coaches consider it reasonable to “bench” a player for up to a month should they make a mistake Tomsula is already charting a very different course for himself and his team.

In his postgame speech to the team Tomsula especially singled out for praise the rookies who made mistakes during the game. He told them that errors were going to happen however they had found a way to overcome these setbacks. He told them to forget their indiscretions and concluded with his formula for coming back from defeat: “We own it, we fix it, we move on”.

This is a wonderful mantra for professionals who encounter disappointments in the BD/sales world. And I wanted to give my twist on Tomsula’s formula in an effort to make it a useful tool for you:

We own it. I imagine the first element of this is self-explanatory: Take a few quiet minutes for an honest self-evaluation detailing what you did wrong and how you could do it differently next time. If you failed to set aside sufficient time to prepare or rehearse for your pitch meeting, now’s the time to own up. You’re only fooling yourself if you think you did everything perfectly.

The second element may be somewhat surprising and a little counterintuitive: Don’t own the client’s stuff. I write this to highlight the perfectionist tendencies of many professionals. Sometimes we ruin our confidence by pretending everything is within our power. It’s not. Wacky stuff happens sometimes, clients make goofy decisions and the business world isn’t always fair.

We’re looking for a Goldilocks zone where we don’t own too little in the loss, we don’t own too much, we own just enough to help us for next time.

We fix it. To maintain the rugby league vibe I am drawn to the advice once dished out by Super Coach Wayne Bennett: “Don’t get bitter, get better.” Regardless of whether we won or lost we should use the time in between pursuits to improve our skills so we can be even more successful next time.

Aside from the obvious benefits of fixing your mistakes also realise this: investing your energy into getting better is one of the best tonics to help you feel optimistic after a loss. There is nothing better for your confidence than looking to the future and moving on. Which, of course, brings me to the final point…

We move on. It’s hard to keep your chin up when you’ve got the millstones of your previous losses still hanging around your neck. And the easiest way to let go of your previous indiscretions is to find another client, opportunity or pursuit to focus your energies on.

You can even help yourself prepare for this step by conducting a pre-mortem during your pursuit. Early in your pursuit invest a few minutes to envision the scenario of you losing the opportunity – then identify the clients you will focus on to make up the revenue or fees – and voila, your moving on list is ready for you the moment you need it.

I also suggest limiting the time for your post-loss wake (otherwise known as feeling sorry for yourself). I once told a client after a particularly nasty loss that they could take the rest of the day to wallow, probably over a beer or a glass of wine. However come 8.30am the next day they better be ready to look at new opportunities because we were heading onwards and upwards.

We own it, we fix it, we move on. Words to live by when we’re coming back from defeat.

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