No sooner had I quoted Napoleon Hill’s belief that every adversity carries the seed of a new opportunity in the previous post, than we had a dramatic real life example of that wisdom.
In one of the greatest come-backs in sporting history, The USA’s Team Oracle snatched victory from New Zealand’s Team Emirates and won the America’s Cup, one of yachting’s most treasured, difficult (and expensive) achievements.
I am not an experienced sailor, I did become reasonably proficient at windsurfing on both inland lakes and offshore in the Indian Ocean many years ago. Those experiences and a few wild rides on both catamarans and mono-hulled yachts were a good taste of the thrill that real ocean racing must provide.
This post is not about the technicalities of yachts or ocean racing, it is to explore the important lessons for us that this demonstrates so vividly. For more details on the race go to this Forbes article.
It’s enough to state that the yachts are expensive, difficult to sail and very fast. They can reach speeds of 50 mph (80 kph) and amazingly sail at three times the speed of the prevailing wind.
Team Oracle, was by September 14, 8-1 down and only one race away from losing the contest. On that day the team won its second race and went on to win 7 consecutive races and the contest. A huge turn around.
Recognising that its strategy was not working, Team Oracle brought in Sir Ben Ainslie, the British Olympic gold medal winning yachtsman as strategist. Undisclosed modifications were also made to the boat.
The members of Team Oracle were not overcome by the adversity of being 8-1 down, a seemingly impossible position from which to stage a comeback. They used it to find the opportunity, an opportunity to bring in another expert, tweak their strategy and win the next 7 races.
Team Emirates allowed defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory. Why? Was it complacency, unwillingness to change what had been a winning strategy? We will probably never know.
What are the lessons?
- As Winston Churchill said, “Never, Ever, give up”.
- If something is not working change your thinking, use new tactics or change your strategy.
- Never think your position as leader is guaranteed, complacency loses more than sporting contests.
My solution when periods of adversity seem insurmountable is to look back at two of the most challenging experiences of my life, completing ultra-marathons and the trauma of the Zimbabwe farm invasions. I tell myself that if I succeeded in the first and survived the second, minor problems like bills to pay, a house to fix or the approach of winter are merely minor inconveniences.
What do you think?
Do you sometimes give up to easily?
Or when facing severe adversity, do you pause, reflect and make whatever changes you need to move forward?
Share your secret to overcoming adversity in the comments.
Image: Wikipedia Creative Commons