What to Do When You’re Losing

Personal Development

My son’s hockey team is in dead last. They’ve lost every game by at least five goals and the young, enthusiastic athletes are now showing signs of deflation. I recently met with a friend who owns a manufacturing company where 60% of their revenue is derived from the oil and gas industry. They are also on a losing streak right now.

We’ve all been there or will be one day. Losing is never fun and it wears on you more than you know. So what can you do if you find yourself losing? The same advice I give to my eight-year-old son is surprisingly very similar to what I give to my fellow entrepreneurs.


  1. Don’t Quit!  The fear of failure and of attaching negative associations to our reputation can make quitting seem like a good option. However, you can never build deep character traits like perseverance, resilience and drive when you quit. The lessons learned in loss are always more refining (defining?) than when you win.


  1. Build From The Positive.  Although you may be disappointed with the outcome of sales, profits or wins, some of the actions and behaviours of making the calls, delivering value and working hard are positive. Build from those actions and continue to understand the behaviours and skills that are necessary to win. You may not see the outcome right away but, over time, the right actions typically lead to the right results as the cyclical nature of markets takes over.


  1. Create A Short-term Game Plan.  Develop a plan that is quarterly or even one month at a time. A shorter game plan focuses everyone’s attention on the details and brings more clarity to execution. These plans tend to be task oriented. Your job as a leader is to communicate the tasks clearly with timelines, ensure your team has the resources they need and then hold them accountable for those tasks at a regularly scheduled time.


  1. Celebrate Small Wins.  If there are no celebrations occurring, motivation and morale can also suffer. Most organizations don’t know how to celebrate even when times are good but it’s especially important when you’re losing to celebrate small wins. Did you accomplish the task list? Did you make the 25 sales calls? Did you launch that new service offering? Did your team take fewer penalties in a hockey game? These small wins don’t warrant an over-the-top celebration but a good public acknowledgment, pointing people out positively and maybe bringing in some treats will help boost morale.


  1. Prepare For Next Season.  “This too shall pass” is a very rich statement. Every sports league or industry has its natural seasons. In some years, you need to wait until the next season comes around until your plans, strategies, and teams are ready to take advantage of opportunities. Not every business or employee has the right skills, experience or luck to hit massive results every year: sometimes patience is the best strategy (which I know no entrepreneur likes to hear).


Above all else, have a strong strategy with great people and the right culture and I guarantee you that positive results will eventually come your way, even if you’re on a losing streak at that particular moment.

Have a great day!