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From Defeat to Victory: Lessons From the Hockey Rink

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How is it that you can lose a hockey game 9-3 and still walk away feeling great?

The answer is that in life, winning isn’t the only way to move forward. At work, I’m Redbooth’s CEO. But when I climb off the ice in my skates after a game, I’m another exhausted hockey player.

Despite the fact that we lost the game, I was also energized and excited. When the going gets tough, you either step up or you don’t. And when you do, you learn some useful lessons.

Here are some of the more valuable lessons that I learned on the ice after a recent game.

Whether you’re gearing up to raise another round of funding for your business or simply take on a new personal challenge, maybe they’ll be useful to you as well.

1. Move past your mistakes -- quickly.

Just minutes into the game, a puck came to me after a face-off…and ended up between my skates. Before I could get to it, the other team snatched it out and quickly shot it into our own net. The goal was 100 percent my fault. Ouch.

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I was upset, but knew that I had to shake it off, maintain an air of confidence, stay positive and remain focused on the game. After a few moments of internal monolog and self-reassurance, I was fully back in the game and giving it 100 percent.

In the past, a refusal to move past mistakes like this has diminished my effectiveness on the ice. In this case, though, determination to bounce back faster turned it into a personal victory.

2. Position yourself to win.

A lot of times in hockey, people stand behind the opponent’s net. There isn’t a worse place to stand in the entire rink. How many times has somebody scored from behind a goal?

In business, if you’re not in position to win, it’s simply not going to happen. Always be ready, prepared, and in a position where you can execute quickly.

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Whatever situation you may be in -- closing a big deal, hiring a key employee or securing funding -- if you’re prepared and in position to win, it’s much more likely to happen.

Always keep your eye on the big picture. Chance favors the prepared.

3. Focus on the season, not the game.

Of course it’s fun to win. But recognize that even when you don’t, you can still emerge having learned a lot, having built a stronger team, and having become stronger and ready to be more successful next time. I believe that we never stop learning along the way, especially if our eyes and minds are open to it.

Related: The Ability to Understand People Is Business at its Core

Wishing you lots of success with you and your team, on the boardroom, at your office, and on the ice.

Dan Schoenbaum

Written By

Redbooth CEO Dan Schoenbaum has nearly two decades of leadership experience with high-growth software companies, including Tripwire, where is was COO,  Compuware, where he headed M&A and Strategy and Mercury Interactive. Schoenbaum is on the board of Evolven Software, and was a first sergeant and sniper in the Israeli paratroopers.