Resilience and the Art of Taking an "L" As a Predictor of Talent Success...
December 10, 2020
When it comes to long-term success for a working class professional in today's world, nothing is more important than knowing how to "take the L".
Let me explain.
"L's were taken" or "Take the L" has been around in phraseology since the early 2000's. Here's the Urban Dictionary cite:
TAKE THE L
Stands for "Take the loss". Frequently used to describe flunking a test, being dumped, being stood up, being beaten up or robbed, or losing one's money in the stock market, gambling, or through exploitative business schemes. I really took the L on that history exam.
While those cites are mostly from one's personal life, Taking the L as a skill is easily transferred to the professional realm.
Note from my personal life: I've got a son in an Engineering program, and it's been a challenging first couple of years. He's not a 4.0, but he works his ass off, and to his dismay, he doesn't always see correlational results to that work (from his view). I've tried to counsel him on what's coming for him in the professional world when he gets there. The guidance goes something like this:
"I take L's every week, sometimes every day in my business life. That meeting didn't go as well as it should have. Someone tells me "no" on new business. The L's are everywhere if you look hard enough."
We're trained by social media that life is nothing but success. Social media is bullshit, and comparison is the thief of joy.
Nobody loses on social media, and kids get a lot of trophies growing up these days. Everyone, it seems, is a snowflake.
But the L's are coming for them in life and at work.
With that in mind, the counsel to me son goes like this:
"In baseball, failing 8 of 10 times at bat (hitting .200) confirms you're no good. Failing 7 of 10 times (hitting .300) makes you an All-Star.
"Teams in Major League Baseball are desperately trying to get to a 92-70 win/loss record so they can make the playoffs (success!) as a Wild Card.
"Professional life is a lot like the MLB. You're trying to get to 92-70. Take the L and do the work in your career - there's a game the next day."
Of course, what we should be looking for is resilience in candidates as we recruit. Can they take a loss and rebound? Resilience is hard to measure, and in my opinion, it's driven by a few things:
1--Behavioral makeup - Sensitivity as a behavioral measurement matters. Low sensitivity people can take rejection, high sensitivity people take longer to recover. Assertiveness is also a tag along trait we should measure as well to look at resilience. Taking an L in the workplace is going to make people with low assertiveness even more unlikely to get back in the game the next day.
2--How someone grew up and overall hunger level - Silver spoons haven't taken as many L's. Understanding how someone grew up can tell you a lot about how bothered they are going to be when Cheryl throws up all over their idea in a team meeting.
3--Mentoring to this point in their career - It's true, guidance in the professional realm matters. The more you've had someone who has seen you fail and been a muse for you - in big ways and in small ways - the more likely you are to have resilience and the perspective that proceeded your desire to show up the next day and grind.
If you're looking for someone with resilience, spend some in the recruiting process digging into to how they bounce back and what happens after a big/small failure. If you're looking to grow resilience on your team, talk more about reactions to failure and setbacks.
You want a team that can take an L. Most of us are striving to go 92-70 in the game of life and squeak into the playoffs.
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