Wimbledon, Fear of Loss, and a Question You Must Answer…

CaptureWhen Andy Murray played the unseeded Fernando Verdasco in the Wimbledon quarter finals last Wednesday, Murray lost the first two sets.

The commentator said an interesting thing.  

I paraphrase him but this is essentially it:

“When Verdasco started this game he had nothing to lose. Now he has something to lose – a semi final place. We’ll see if that makes a difference.”

The implication was that at the start he was under no pressure and as such could and did play freely and therefore play well. Now, two sets up, nerves come into play and the dreaded fear of loss. He might tighten up. And we know that fear leads to failure.

Murray won the next three sets and the match.  

Now we will never know to what if any extent fear of loss played in Verdasco’s defeat.

But I bet it did play a role because I see it all the time in organisations.   

Fear of loss kicks in and people settle for the continuation of the status quo too readily.

They don’t take the foreign assignment.

They don’t admit weakness and never seek help.

They don’t put their head above the parapet.

They don’t start the business/project etc.

They don’t learn the skill.

They avoid the accountability.

They don’t risk what they have because in their heart of hearts they feel that they have been lucky and if they lost what they have they could never replace it. This is almost certainly rubbish.

When we start out on our journey most of us approach our opportunities with vigour and we play the game freely and we start to win. Then we face a choice.

Choice 1 – continue with the winning formula and keep winning, or

Choice 2 – “bank the gains”, change the formula to one more risk averse (i.e. driven by fear of loss) and plateau early, leaving much of our potential unrealised.  

Choice 1 of course is better but choosing it is not easy. We are hard-wired to hold the gain and avoid the loss. But this is an ancient, jungle mindset.  

Today, the possibility of loss is simply a risk (in business and in life) and risks should be managed with our adult brain – calm and objective, based on facts and truth, and not with our emotional, chimp brain.

Do not be reckless of course. Do not bet the farm.

This is mindset management and is what Ivan Lendl as coach has purportedly brought to Murray’s game over the last eighteen months.

It seems to be working.

The question to ask yourself is this: are you taking your opportunities and managing the associated risks or are you avoiding your opportunities because they have risks?

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