Why People Fail
Smashed His Head Bloody Pounding It On His Locker Door – And Broke
Off Two Teeth Biting On It.”
You may recall a story like that from Dan Jenkins' football novel, Semi-Tough, which was made into an ok movie. The story is reportedly based on actual behavior of Howie Long when he was playing for the Oakland Raiders. You now see a mild-mannered, pleasant Howie on the Sunday morning football show onFOX. That is not the Howie teammates and opponents saw on the field. There, they saw and encountered a man who hated to lose. In his newest novel, about the LPGA, The Franchise Babe, Jenkins again talks about the hate-to-lose element.
I find fewer and fewer people exhibiting this especially in pro sports and in business. Most are all too willing to accept losing and losses, to shrug them off, to end days without productive accomplishment, to miss sales, to let revenue escape, to let customers disappear, to bank excuses instead of money. Well, you get what you accept.
I have always hated not doing well. Hate is, or is supposed to be, a very strong word. Hate is dark and violent and intense. I mean it that way. I hate not doing well. People interfering with my ability to do well, through negligence, incompetence, stupidity, have seen and felt my wrath. Like Howie, I have actually, physically injured myself – smashing fist into wall, steel file cabinet; kicking car fender repeatedly; etc. – all in an unchecked rage after screwing up badly.
When I set out in the morning with a to-do list, I resist with every fiber of my being, carrying an item on it over to the next day. I hate that. When advertising, marketing or sales campaigns are slowed or sabotaged by people's sloppy or careless implementation, I immediately begin scheming to rid my life of the culprits. I hate people who don't hate things being screwed up. I approve of the Oriental tradition of falling on one's own sword when performing badly. By normal standards, I suppose I am emotionally unstable or dysfunctional, and might be diagnosed as mentally ill, but then normal standards lead to normal results, which suck.
By the way, every doctor always expects me to have high blood pressure. I do not. I cause high blood pressure — I don't have it. Seems to me, if you don't care deeply and passionately about getting whatever you're doing done right, done fast and on time, and done in a way that produces the best results, then you ought to find something worth caring about to do – or find a way to do nothing at all. If I had a team, I'd much rather have a Howie Long, and have to pry the damaged locker door from his hands and talk him out of the depths of rage, despair and depression over losing, than have a modern-day, laissez-faire, stuff happens, we'll try to do better next time wimp that has to be to talked into performing. When I look around the ranks of the rich, I see people like me who hate losing. When I look around everywhere else, I see loads of good losers.
At the moment, a lot of willing-toaccept- not-doing-well folks have been handed an extra supply of excuses – gas prices, real estate slump, Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, etc. – and many are unconsciously delighted to have them. Be careful. Their mental illness is contagious.
About This Contributor
Dan S. kennedy
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