retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

I blew it.

A few weeks back, I wrote about the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team and its seemingly endless march to glory as it rang up 111 consecutive victories over more than three years. I wrote about the team’s dedication to detail and how, despite all its titles, nothing was ever taken for granted.

But I missed the most important lesson.

If you haven’t heard by now (it was even in Monday’s MNB) UConn lost in the semi-finals of the collegiate championship. Obviously that wasn’t my fault. There’s no MNB jinx nor is it likely the team even knows about us.

After the game I saw an interview with UConn’s peerless coach, Geno Auriemma, who basically delivered the lesson about the entire streak and did it in the most unexpected way.

Essentially, Auriemma said losing was good - even important - for his young team, both as players and as people. As the coach explained, constantly winning was fabulous, but it was also a fantasy. No one always wins and his team needed to learn both that and how to cope with defeat.

Auriemma’s comment is hardly a new thought. Philosophers, generals and countless athletes have said the same; that the real lessons come from losing and finding a way to bounce back.

In many ways I know think that is the far more important lesson from the excellence of the Connecticut team. Yes, their dedication to detail that I wrote about before matters. Their relentless focus to always playing their best is a powerful model for any of us in anything we do.

But the importance of living with and learning from mistakes is even more important.

Think about some of the topics we discuss here at MNB on a regular basis, including the challenges posed by Amazon and other e-commerce operators to other new competitors, new employee issues, consumers and everything else. In truth, no one (especially us) knows how any of this will play out.

Yet it will play out. That’s a guarantee. Amazon or Aldi might change retail as we know it, or they might not. Either way, we know they will try and that then - inevitably - someone else will come after them.

Every company is going to try various ideas to fight back or just survive. Some of those ideas, strategies and tactics will work and some won’t. The winners in the end will likely be those who most quickly learn from their mistakes, adapt and move on. The losers will either fail to move on or will simply not take chances.

Those of you managing others need to especially consider Auriemma’s words. Unquestionably, people on your team will make mistakes all the time. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. The challenge is how do you help them grow from the mistakes so they are better the next time.

Put another way, do mistakes and losing paralyze us or motivate us? The answer may make all the difference to your future.

Remember, winning isn’t everything. Learning and improvement are.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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