The Most Interesting Man in the World implores us to “Stay thirsty, my friends.” There are many hilarious memes with variations of the Most Interesting Man in the World’s “I don’t always…” theme. One of my favorites is “I don’t always drop ice cubes on the floor, but when I do, I shamelessly kick them underneath the fridge.” Comedy gold aside, there is a real life lesson, adapted from the famous Dos Equis pitchman’s directive: staying cool in the face of adversity.
If you watched the NFL playoffs this past weekend, the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game in particular, you saw the Bengals author an epic implosion. While we can argue the merits of the plays, calls or non-calls during the last two minutes of the game, what isn’t debatable is that the Bengals came unglued at the worst possible moment. Benefitting from two personal fouls against the undisciplined Bengals, the Steelers gained 30 yards of field position without a second coming off the clock. After the Steelers kicked the game winning field goal, the Bengals blamed everyone but themselves for the stunning loss. Needless to say, Cincinnati did not stay cool in the face of adversity.
When you’re part of a team, you can’t be an undisciplined hothead. It will end up costing you and your team at some point. If you’re the team leader (coach, manager, supervisor or whatever), you have to keep your team in control and on task. In the game, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis failed to control his team, and the result speaks for itself. I coach my youth baseball, and even at the 10 year-old age (or especially at this age, depending who you ask), keeping my team focused and not unraveling when things inevitably go awry is critical to its success and the kids’ developing life skills.
With this in mind, five benefits of staying cool, whether you’re part of a team or its leader:
1. Keeps you focused on the big picture
It’s not often in sports, business or life that everything goes as planned. Obstacles will arise and challenges will emerge that threaten the objective. When you stay cool, you’re able to manage these distractions in a way that doesn’t compromise the primary goal.
2. Shows strength and character
This is especially true for team leaders, who lead by example, in one way or another. How you deal with adversity will filter down to the troops, and they will respond accordingly. As part of a team, by staying cool, you become a much more valuable resource to the team’s leader and an example for others.
3. Demonstrates leadership
For better or worse, team members will follow their leaders and mimic the behavior they see. By keeping calm when responding to adversity, you show the team the stability many will need when in managing the situation. Overreacting tends to produce difficult-to-reverse decisions, or at the least, decisions that result in people questioning your ability to lead.
4. Promotes accountability
Staying cool in the face of adversity allows you to acknowledge the situation and respond in a positive fashion, without attempting to cast blame. People instinctively want to help others, so when you’re able to keep calm, you’ll be able to accept responsibility which will endear you to others, and elicit their help.
5. Advancement opportunity
In sports, business and life, people that stay cool are respected, valued and rewarded. We’ve often heard one or more variations of “…is a pressure player, and plays his/her best when the spotlight is the brightest.” The same applies in business and life. When you can stay cool, you show the type of leadership that people appreciate and will follow.
By no means am I saying that it’s easy to stay cool and focused. I can appreciate the frustration of seeing things crumble before your eyes, when you’ve worked hard to get to that point. We’re human beings, and for whom emotions and rationale thought separate us from the rest of the creatures on the planet. I’m also not advocating that we transform into cold, emotionless robots. However, by staying cool, we help not only ourselves, we help others too.
As such, and in a nod to the Most Interesting Man in the World: Stay Cool, My Friends.