Your Life’s Halftime: Whine, Watch, or Win?

Becoming is better than being. Carol Dweck 

Lately, I find myself thinking about sports. This is not a topic I regularly contemplate, but I see parallels between this pandemic and an athletic match. Right now, a referee blew the whistle forcing all of us into an unexpected halftime. 

Sometimes I lay awake wonderinghow will I react to this unprecedented moment in time? I could decide I’m frankly just too overwhelmed by what often feels like a nightmare and decide to take a break until the world is in a better place…or I could power through, challenge myself and come out stronger on the other side of this.

Recently, I was inspired to consider this “halftime” concept by Alex Schwartz. A growth and transformation strategist, Schwartz helps leaders re-skill and re-humanize their workers in the face of disruption. Thanks in part to Schwartz’s motivation, I am thinking about how I will play the rest of the game. This is an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on the choices we’ve made professionally and personally prior to halftime. When society begins to reopen and this break ends, will you have any regrets as to how you played the game? 

Over the last few weeks, I have been busy speaking with investors, boards, the C-Suite, and others in mid-managementWhat I’ve learned, in these uncertain times — everyone’s job is at risk. But the successful C-suite executives have a different tone. They are looking at opportunities to expand their current business, forging new strategic partnerships, looking to land great talent finding themselves suddenly available, and clearly acting with a growth mindset (more on that later). It’s no surprise, those with this attitude are sitting at the top.  

When I think of the ways to respond to our circumstances, I am reminded of Carol Dweck’s Psychology of Success presentation. This speech and book outline an inspirational framework for success. Dweck’s research looked at why some people “wilted in the face of failure.”  

We can decide to falter at the coronavirus or soar. From my vantage point, and with influence from Dweck and a recent Tony Robbins podcast, there are three ways to respond to this pandemic.  

1. Whine
When you enter a video conference with a colleague or answer a call from a friend, and you are asked, “how are you?” what is your response? There is an obvious difference between a whiner and a winner.

Being a “whiner” is more than just the way you engage with others. It is about your mindset. Stop for a second and assess yourself. Do you think talent and abilities are fixed traits or ones that can be achieved?

Dweck says people with a fixed mindset believe a person is born with the skills and talents to succeed. They think these fixed traits cannot change. Perhaps these people are afraid of appearing incompetent or do not believe they are capable of overcoming the challenges the coronavirus presents at their job, businesses, or family.

Whiners avoid failure at all costs. They stick to what worked for them in the past. But the majority of us have never been forced to work around a global pandemic. New ideas and calculated risks are necessary. What was working before won’t necessarily work today. 

Whiners need to pause for a moment and consider this, “am I capable of making a difference?” The answer is a resounding yes. They must ignore the fear that is holding them back and take action. 

2. Watch
Like the whiners, watchers subscribe to the fixed mindset. Instead of focusing on what’s next, they prefer to stand still.

Can you afford to let others succeed while you watch? It’s true, you may not be able to achieve the same goals you intended to at the beginning of 2020. But goals can change.

Ask yourself, “what impact can I make right now?” Think about ways to grow your business in this new environment. Raise your hand when a colleague asks for help. Brainstorm ways to strengthen customer relationships. Right now, much is out of our control. Focus on the things you can change and put your energy into impacting them. 

3. Win
Winners believe in, according to Dweck’s research, “the power of ‘yes’ as opposed to the tyranny of ‘no.’” These successful people have a growth mindset. To them, failures are not a signal of stupidity, but rather a chance to grow and learn. They face challenges head-on. What greater challenge than a pandemic?

Individuals with a growth mindset believe their basic talents can evolve. They listen and learn from others. So, when a tremendous challenge like the coronavirus upends life, this group responds with action. They fail and try again. For them, our collective halftime is an opportunity to move forward and plan for life when things return to some semblance of normalcy.

Winners will see this time as a chance to do more. They will look for any and every opportunity to make their circumstances better. They don’t spend the majority of their time whining about misfortunes or watching others succeed.

As Dweck wrote in her book“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life.” 

I want to be a winner. That’s why I spend my free time thinking about ways to better my relationships and drive the business forward. I am reflecting on my contributions to my family and community.  

This is our time to decide to freeze omove forward. What’s your perspective on this halftime? How are you responding?