I don't care who won the Super Bowl... and it's not why you think

Photo credit: Giovanni Arteaga

Photo credit: Giovanni Arteaga

Were you rooting for the Broncos or the Panthers? Football is a black box to me so it didn't make much difference. Like many others, I view the Super Bowl as a great opportunity to make killer loaded nachos, host some friends, and watch the ads. So what?

So I don't have any favorite sports teams. I've never even played a team sport in my life. I got Cs in gym class - bet you didn't even know that was possible! I just had no interest or ability when it came to sports. One of the great privileges of adulthood is being able to say I don't want to play with impunity. But it turns out I'm lacking a fundamental skill that you learn, in part, from sports: how to lose a game, pick yourself back up, and try again tomorrow.

Turns out there are lots of ways to shield yourself from disappointment: by not getting too invested, by setting goals that aren't challenging, by not learning enough to participate fully and take a real shot. Putting in your full effort makes you vulnerable, which is scary. If you have no opportunity to practice feeling disappointed, when it inevitably comes it's overwhelming. (Incidentally, video games are another way to develop the motivation and resilience to practice learning from your mistakes and trying again. No, I never played those either.)

As a new business owner (and in negotiation), resilience is a key skill. One of the best pieces of advice I've received is to reframe my view of "no" to "no for now." I once had the opportunity to ask an industry leader I admired very much for some advice. I shared a story with her about a career-related experience that turned out to be a complete and utter failure, and of which I felt deeply ashamed. She looked at me and said, "Alex, buck up. If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough."

In startup world, failure is a hot topic. Everyone loves to talk about learning from their failures and failing fast. But when it happens to you, it still feels personal, doesn't it? I wish I had more practice at losing JV soccer games to know that the world doesn't end when you lose. I'll just have to find some other ways to develop resilience.


Alexandra Dickinson

Alexandra Dickinson is the CEO and founder of Ask For It, a boutique consulting company working to close the gender wage gap by effecting change at both the institutional and individual level. We work with companies, schools, organizations and individuals through a combination of trainings, workshops and consulting. Our goal is for women and men to be paid based on their talents and skills, regardless of gender, and for our company to have been an important part of that change.