Sportsmanship is not limited to games played on fields, courts, and courses. After all, what is sport? It is simply athletic competition. Absent the athletics, it is merely competition.
As a human being, you compete every day, do you not? In your career. In business. At home, subtly, with neighbors. The entire human existence – like it or not – is about competing.
In life there will always be winners and losers.
Now, consider the time when you encountered someone who was not being a good sport, such as celebrating excessively when things were going well or behaving poorly in the midst of a setback. At that time, you had little interest in getting to know the person and you really did not like her (even if only temporarily).
However, when you exhibit good sportsmanship, you set a wonderful example that elevates your brand. Others are proud to know you. They cannot help but like you. Moreover, they want to believe that they can trust you. Because of this, there are two general principles as to how sportsmanship plays into your personal brand.
Be of the same character in defeat as in victory
Principle No. 1: Life is not an endless progression of forward progress. Eventually you will endure a setback. At this time, it is only natural to experience a certain degree of disappointment and frustration. Nevertheless, at these times you must fight to work through this discontentment and not allow it to affect those around you. In these times, endeavor to carry yourself in the same manner as you would if things were going well.
Here are four thoughts on doing just that:
(1) Minimize The Effect: Put the setback or disappointment in perspective. Just how vital is it compared to your entire life, business, or career? Likely relatively small.
(2) Swallow Pride: Remind yourself that the setback does not define you and it does not undo your prior accomplishments and achievements.
(3) Move Beyond It: Remind yourself that your failure is not fatal. Rather it is just a temporary set back.
(4) Look For The Winning: With every setback, you gained something. You need to take an inventory of what that is and use it to move forward.
By working through each of these four thoughts in the face of a setback or disappointment you will find that you hold yourself a little taller and prouder, improving your presence.
Remain as humble in victory as in defeat
Principle No. 2: Remember that the world respects a modest winner as much as it does someone who loses demonstrating great sportsmanship. Excessive celebrating and gloating does as much damage to how others perceive you as when you display a miserable disposition in the face of a setback. So you are best to carry an air of humility no matter how good things are going.
Here are four thoughts to keep your celebration within respectable limits:
(1) Have Perspective: Put your achievement in perspective. While it serves to advance you, from an overall perspective it is likely small.
(2) Feel Compassion: Whenever you have an achievement, there is someone else on the other end. Reflect on their feelings and have compassion for them.
(3) Move Forward: One achievement does not give you ultimate success. As such, quickly resolve that you need to continue the pursuit of your next goal.
(4) Look For The Lesson: Every experience offers a lesson, so find it. Then use it to help you earn more accomplishments in the future.
By working through each of these four thoughts as you accomplish and achieve, you will not only impress others by your accomplishments, they will appreciate the humble nature with which you achieve them.
Frank Agin is the founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections. In addition, Frank is the author of Foundational Networking: Building Know, Like and Trust To Create A Lifetime of Extraordinary Success and the co-author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website and The Champion: Finding the Most Valuable Person in Your Network.