Maria Sharapova — one of the greatest women tennis players of all time, winner of Wimbledon at 17, Olympic medalist — gave us all an important lesson four weeks ago on when your personal strengths really matter.
At a press conference that most thought was going to be a retirement announcement, she told the world that she had tested positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open. Here are her exact words:
“I did fail the test, and I take full responsibility for it … I made a huge mistake.”
No denial, no blame. That’s how winners respond to mistakes and losses.The key to your character can always be found in how you handle adversity. Click To Tweet
Now, there may have been mitigating circumstances, and she mentioned them. She had been taking the medicine legally for ten years for various health reasons. Some experts say that’s not valid. I’m not a medical expert, so I won’t get into that debate. If she did cheat, that’s a serious character flaw.
But in her press conference, when she knew she had to tell the truth, Maria made a choice. She didn’t rant and rage. She didn’t say that the International Tennis Federation was wrong for suspending her. She didn’t say that the regulation was idiotic and that she was being attacked or made an example of.
We’ve all seen people handle their mistakes that way, and it’s never pretty.
It’s easy to show your best character traits — your personal strengths that dictate the kind of person you are in good and bad times — when you’re winning. Most people (not all) are at their kindest and most generous when they’re winning. They’re gracious. They remember to thank the people who helped them across the finish line. They compliment their competitors. They admit they weren’t perfect.
Because it’s easy. The stress and fear are gone.
But what about when we’ve made a mistake? When we’ve made a bad choice? When we’ve hurt somebody? That’s when fear and stress take over. And that’s when strengths like integrity, honesty, and faith are more important than ever.
Are you at your best when the situation couldn’t be worse? Here are some questions to help you find out. If you’re feeling really courageous, email this article to some people in your life who you care about and who care about you and ask them for their thoughts.
The 5 Questions
1. When you make a mistake, do you say so?
It’s a sign of integrity when we own our mistakes.
2. Have you ever lied to cover up a mistake?
It’s a sign of honesty when we refuse to take the easy way out: lying and cheating.
3. The last time you lost or didn’t achieve your goal due to a mistake, how did you react?
It’s a sign of discipline and faith when we can stay level-headed, and not let ourselves be overwhelmed by disappointment, guilt, or fear.
4. What important lessons did you learn from your last three mistakes?
It’s a sign of wisdom when we can learn from our mistakes.
5. When somebody on your team or in your family makes a mistake that sets you back, how do you handle it?
It’s a sign of compassion when we can forgive and coach rather than get angry or go on the attack.
So how did you do? If you wish your answers were better, that’s okay. None of us are perfect. Commit to doing better tomorrow and show more of your personal strengths the next time you’re in a tough spot.
To get a more complete view of your strengths and weaknesses, take the Serial Winner Assessment today.
Question: What have you learned from making a big mistake in your life or career? Leave a comment below, and let me know.