Fight or Flight? One Small Bird’s Big Lesson On Being A Gracious Loser

In a rare moment of fight and flight, more than 30,000 spectators burst into applause when a lone seagull—knocked out by a stray Cricket ball—regained consciousness from a seemingly early demise.

On Wednesday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers didn’t realize there’d be a third player in the game. Nevertheless, there he was, unexpected competition: a seagull—sunning itself on the field—suddenly got caught in crossfires of batsman Adam Voges’ ball.

But, in an unlikely turn of events, as Melbourne fielder Rob Quiney lifted its lifeless-looking body off the pitch, the bird regained consciousness and ruffled its feathers with a determination to live and (what we can only assume to be) an overpowering love of the game.

Released in Yarra Park, the bird was permanently ejected, but not without first leaving a lasting impression. The seagull saved the home team two runs and cinched their three-wicket victory, reports CNN in “Down but not out: Relief as seagull recovers after being bowled over during TV cricket match.”

In the end, we’ll never know if the visiting Scorchers would have recovered had the bird not.

Crippled by a sports injury, bad day in the financial market, a losing court case, or just plain bad luck, it can be hard to recover after a loss. Law firm professionals, like any other, are victim to bad days.

Accidentally missed a deadline? Deliberately lost out after a poor strategic decision?

Managers are particularly on the hook for team mishaps. More important than the outcome, however, is how you handle the outlook afterward.

1. Analyze the events

Before anything, it’s important to gather information about the loss and investigate how it happened. Collect data. Generate an analysis.

Emotionally, you might have to “let it go,” but as a manager, it’s important to learn from mistakes. This requires an objective analysis of the facts.

2. Objectively separate the good from the bad (Don’t place blame)

Next, distill from the analysis the good outcomes. There are always positives to every negative. Perhaps you lost a court case or motion argued in court. But, at the same time, did you learn something about opposing counsel to be used in your legal arsenal the next time? Write it down, file it away.

What parts of the strategy worked, and why? Recognize what works and what doesn’t so that your firm doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

At the same time, don’t place blame. No win or loss is generated by a single player or event. It’s important in your role as manager to identify the collective good (and bad) as a learning exercise. The blame game is never productive in the long-term and only creates dissent among your ranks and resentment among your employees.

3. Create a recovery plan

So you missed a deadline. Would it have helped to log the event on an online calendar or smartphone? Implement a strategy for incorporating online legal tools in the workplace.

A recovery plan can be anything from providing additional training for employees on a particular skill or software that was previously lacking, to boosting morale.

A key loss can be as devastating on the future motivation of your employees as the bottom line of your firm.

So, as a manager, meet with each of your team members individually to discuss their contribution. Include positives and negatives. Especially in the case of unexpected loss, be sure to show appreciation for everybody’s efforts.

So the Scorchers lost the game and two runs to an ill-fated fowl. At least there was no loss of life: something animal activists—if not sports fans—can be relieved to know.

Lesson learned? Sometimes the only lesson learned is that your team did the best they could given a situation. The fight by Perth’s Scorchers was just no match for the flight of one small seagull.

Need to boost morale? Take C4CM’s audio course, “Toxic Behavior at Work: Strategies to Reduce Dysfunction, Defuse Venom, and Improve Workplace Morale.

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