Klay Thompson didn’t play basketball for 941 days, but now he and his Golden State Warriors teammates are heading to the NBA finals. ESPN described his reaction when the finals were in sight, “As the clock ticked down the final seconds, Klay Thompson began dancing on the sideline before nearly being moved to tears during a celebration with his teammates. After two major surgeries and two years of grueling rehabilitation, Thompson is rounding back into form and shot the Golden State Warriors back into the NBA Finals.”
There is something extraordinary about the ability of an athlete to recover, rehabilitate, and return to delivering exceptional results. It’s truly an inspiration to all of us about the power of commitment, resilience, and passion.
- Cyclist Greg LeMond won the Tour de France, then suffered a bike wreck shortly after a hunting accident. Two years after being shot, he returns to racing and wins the Tour De France two more times.
- Monica Seles, sitting at the top of the tennis world, is stabbed by a maniac fan. She recovered and won both the Canadian Open and the Australian Open two years later.
- Golfer Tiger Woods recovers from four back surgeries and a personal scandal to win the 2019 Masters. Then, just over 14 months after a significant car accident that left Woods with multiple broken bones that appeared career-ending, he played in the Masters, making it to the final round. He didn’t win on the scorecard, but he scored a major victory for himself and his fans.
Although comebacks like these are thrilling and inspiring, the direct application to our day-to-day lives can be a bit tough to make. So, let’s draw the idea closer – no hunting accident or stabbing attack required.
You can witness athletes bounce back from in-the-moment missteps in nearly every athletic event. These are the dropped balls and missed shots that make up their daily work. They are also the mental, communication, and execution errors that show up in our work. The key for the successful athlete is to bounce back mentally, shake off the momentary failure, reset, and perform.
Every once in a while on the Leadership Lab podcast, I sit down and talk to a professional athlete. I’ve spoken to people like Dansby Swanson, the shortstop of the Atlanta Braves, or former NFL player Desmond Clark. When I learn about their approach to shaking off mistakes and getting back in the game, the answers always involve accepting the reality that mistakes will happen, that’s part of the game, and you can’t change it once it happens. But, you can focus on the next play and choose to put your best energy into it.
I would suggest the same thing is true for you and those you lead. Mistakes will happen, but the error you just made doesn’t define what will happen next. This week’s tool will help you shake off a poor result, a damaged relationship, or a nagging regret. Use the tool to name it, describe it, and shred it.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.