For this post, I’d like to return to one of my favorite documents: The Optimist Creed.
The Optimist Creed
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
In this post, I’d like to delve into the seventh point: “Promise yourself to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.”
Let’s begin with a quote from Ann Landers:
“If I were asked to give what I consider to be the single-most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye, and say ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me’.”
I like what Ann Landers has to say here because it is a bit of a reality check. She’s right, trouble – and setbacks and failure – are an inevitable part of life. Self-confident people look trouble squarely in the eye and move forward. They are not cowed by their failures, rather they embrace them and use them to move towards their goals. They also own up to their mistakes. In this way, they become widely trusted. And trust is the glue that holds together all relationships.
If you read this blog somewhat regularly, you probably know that I am a big tennis fan. A couple of years ago, I saw two great matches at The Australian Open, the first major tennis tournament of the year.
James Blake, one of the two best American men tennis players at the time, won a great five-set match on Friday night. He lost the first two sets to Sebastien Grosjean. Then he won the next three to win the best of five-set match. He was down four games to one in the fourth set, but won in a tie break. He was gritty.
To put it in terms of The Optimist Creed, James Blake was able to “forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.” In this case, the past was the first two sets of the match. Also, to win, James Blake had to honestly evaluate his play in those first two sets and make some changes.
Roger Federer, on the other hand, was the best player in the world at that time. He still is very good. He had a terrible match against Janko Tipsarevic on Saturday afternoon of that Australian Open. He made 64 unforced errors and lost 16 of 21 break points. If you follow tennis, you know that this is a recipe for losing.
However, Mr. Federer won the match in five sets. Afterwards he said, “He (Mr. Tipsarevic) was just going for his shots and kept making them. In the end, I just tried to block out all the chances I missed.” The Optimist Creed shows up again. By blocking out “all the chances I missed,” Mr. Federer was able to win the match.
I believe that James Blake and Roger Federer won these matches because of their self-confidence, their optimism, and as Ann Landers says, their ability to “look it (trouble) squarely in the eye, and say ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me’.” They also owned up to their mistakes and made the changes in their games that they needed to do to win their matches. By the way, Lleyton Hewitt did the same thing in his five-set match against Marcos Baghdatis.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Follow the career advice in Tweet 138 in Success Tweets. “We all make mistakes. Own up to yours. You’ll become known as a straight shooter, honest with yourself and others.” Successful, self-confident people realize that mistakes are part of life. They learn from their mistakes and then build on this knowledge to create their own success. Owning up to your mistakes is great career advice. First, you have to own up to them privately. This is the only way to get past them and move forward to career success. Second, you have to own up to your mistakes publicly. Admit them to your colleagues and coworkers. Take responsibility when you let down others. You’ll build strong relationships by being forthright.