Celebrate Or Commiserate? It's Ratings Time!
December 8, 2015
I've never become comfortable around ratings releases. After a decade I thought I would have acclimatized just a little, but no. I start feeling anxious days ahead of the release. I often don't sleep well - if at all - in the days leading up to ratings. An uncomfortable mix of excitement and trepidation consumes me. The pressure builds inside me as if I'm a bottle of pop that has been vigorously shaken up. When the data has eventually downloaded its like someone has finally twisted open the lid, and the pressure is released. Whatever the result happens to be is almost a blessing compared to the anticipation of what the result could be!
What I have learned is that your attitude and how you approach the result is crucial. In the moments surrounding a result you can easily become distracted by your success or deflated by your defeat. Not knowing how to effectively manage these powerful emotions can ultimately define whether you win or lose next time.
Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal." It's a compelling statement when you reflect on what it truly means. Winning one ratings book doesn't mean you've won and the game is over. In fact, by the time you receive the results you're already playing in the next game. Failure doesn't mean it's the end and you can't go on. It's a sign that you have to do something different. You have to dig deeper and work harder. Ultimately, both success and failure can - and will - be fleeting.
Don Shula, legendary NFL Coach who led the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories and to the only perfect season in NFL history, had a 24-hour rule. He only allowed the players and coaches a maximum of 24 hours after a game to celebrate or commiserate. During those 24 hours he encouraged everyone to really embrace the emotions. He wanted them to experience the enjoyment of winning, to be proud of what they had accomplished. Equally, after a defeat, he wanted them to feel the disappointment and agony that surrounded the setback. He wanted them to experience the frustration and negativity of their lackluster performance. But, as soon as those 24 hours were over, they put all those feelings - the good or the bad - behind them and moved on to the next game.
Shula's insight is persuasive. It encourages the team to celebrate their wins. To high five and congratulate one another. Truly experiencing a win makes a team want to do it again. It's important that you make each win feel special to the team. Stop for a day and celebrate together. Equally, when defeats come along you need to embrace the disappointment. It is all too easy to dismiss the loss. To blame the system; "it's the sample size," "it's diary placement" etc. This type of reaction serves nothing more than to negate the reality. Instead, accept and embrace how you feel about the defeat. Commiserate together. Reflect on what didn't go as planned, what you have learned and what you need to do next. It's human nature for us to want to move away from bad situations, seek improvements and find the high. In order to do that, we first need to experience the lows when they come along.
The key element to Shula's approach is the time limit. It's just 24-hours! If you celebrate the success for too long, you'll start to believe your own hype. You'll be caught still high fiving as your competitors are mounting their charge to take you down. Equally, dwelling on the negativity of losing can make the idea of moving forward seem insurmountable. Spending too much time believing you can't means you won't. Use emotions to drive you forward. Channel your energies into the next battle. Lingering in the high of winning or the low of losing can distort your perspective. After 24 hours, focus on the next battle. The past is the past. Now it's time to define your future.
Remember... "Success is not final, failure is not fatal."