By Adam Booth
When I am not combing the internet for the best and latest in leadership advice, you may see me down in Chester, PA leading chants in support of the Philadelphia Union, our local soccer team in the area. For 3 years now I have stood in front of thousands of fans to get the crowd going and create a memorable atmosphere for the stadium. While I would say I, for the most part, have experienced success at this job, there have been moments of slip ups.
One moment sticks out from my time down in Chester. The game was underway and we had started to wave large flags in the supporters’ section for the team (The River End as it’s called). We did so to mimic an atmosphere more akin to the likes of European soccer. Some of our fans whom were used to the American viewing experience (i.e., no obstructions of view) took exception to the idea and asked flag wavers to put them down. I took it upon myself to try to solve the situation in a very diplomatic way. After talking to both parties I felt that an agreement had been met. It had not.
Later in the match, I found myself watching one of the gentlemen being escorted out because he had become belligerent towards the flag wavers. I became upset and began to have a very animated conversation with the guilty party. I did so because I was frustrated that a solution I had fostered had broken down. Afterwards, I can recall feeling self-conscious, wondering if I had shown a less than favorable side of myself during my passionate discussion with the gentlemen.
This experience taught me that, even when well-intended, we are bound to experience slip ups. However, it is not the mistakes, but the way we choose to respond that defines our character and leaves a lasting impression on others. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned about how to ensure you don’t get derailed or demotivated by these experiences:
1. Maintain Composure.
While it can feel like everything is going wrong in that moment, take a few moments to take a deep breath and get rid of any catastrophic thoughts. If you can handle your worst moments with grace, you set an example for the rest of your team.
2. Allow yourself to be humble.
Embarrassment can happen to anyone. Showing that you are not above low moments is another great example for your peers. Most will appreciate your vulnerability and are likely to respond with empathy rather than judgement.
3. Own it.
Nothing looks worse than a person trying to elude personal responsibility. Admit where you may have mis-stepped and then focus on articulating your plan for moving forward. Do not hesitate to include others who may be useful in helping you figure out how to operate differently in the future.
4. Find the upside.
Be easy on yourself and aim to find the humor, teachable moment, or positive side of the situation. Your resilience and light heartedness will help to put everyone around you at ease and ensure everyone focuses on what is ahead.