A Few Workplace Lessons From the Failed Chase For the Triple Crown

The legendary Triple Crown in horse racing consists of the same horse winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes all in the same season.

No horse has accomplished this feat since 1978. Once again, 2013 will not have a Triple Crown winner either.

But, you should still care about the process of trying to reach a Triple Crown in 2013, however, and here is why:

1. Learn and move on

Take the long view; 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb is owned by the Phipps/Janney family. This same family missed out on owning both Secretariat and Seabiscuit, two of the most famous and accomplished thoroughbred horses in the history of horse racing.

This family could have walked away from horse racing altogether. Instead, they focused on the next opportunity to come, year after year. They developed more talented horses in their pipeline. They invested in long-term business relationships. They were not afraid to continue to take risks on building quality talent over time. They did not obsess over what they did not accomplish in years past.

Similarly, when you have missed opportunities, or even failures (as much as people hate to use that word), you have to learn from them and move on.

2. Assemble the right team

Joel Rosario, the jockey and Shug McGaughey, a Hall of Fame horse trainer ,completed the package pulled together by the ownership family to ensure Orb’s success to date at the Kentucky Derby 2013.

No one can do it all on their own. Complement your areas of opportunity with others who have those strengths. You are all better together in the end every time. Chemistry between team mates matters.

3. Leverage your past

Gary Stevens is the jockey who rode Oxbow to victory at the Preakness Stakes last Saturday in Baltimore. Stevens’ story is unique because he retired from racing in 2005. He returned earlier this year at age 50 – an enormous risk in this particular sport! The insights he has from all of those years of knowing horses so intimately cannot be replicated any other way.

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Similarly, draw on the past experiences only YOU have to bring to your current challenges. They can give you fresh perspective and the confidence you need to ensure a successful outcome now.

4. Ignore your own press

Going into the Preakness, the fans, the media, almost everyone, it seemed like was on “the Orb bandwagon.”

People get behind a winner. Everyone wants to see another Triple Crown winner. Orb did not know the difference, and Oxbow certainly had other plans!

Businesses in 2013 operate from a “What have you done for me lately?” mindset. Just because you won a company-wide award last year does not mean job security. Reputation and stellar talent calls must be supported by business results year in and year out.

Before you place your bets for the third Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes on June 8, consider the stories of Orb and Oxbow in 2013. The horses and the people who work with them can teach us all a little something.

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.

Betsy Winkler is Partner at PeopleResults a human capital consultancy focusing on change, organization, talent and communications/new media. She has been working as a business consultant and change leader for 20 years, and previously led the Change Leadership Center of Excellence for PepsiCo.

Contact her at bwinkler@people-results.com.

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