Don't count your chickens.*



One of the more painful but important lessons in business or in life is the one you learn when when a supposed "sure thing" fails to materialize. It could be a promised action, an expected sale or even a relationship that, for whatever reason, suddenly goes bad.


I was reminded of this today, when someone told the story of the 1888 FA Cup (soccer) final between West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End. Preston were nailed on favorites to win, not least because they had beaten their previous opponents 26-0. (For US readers, this is the equivalent of an NFL team winning 182-0). In fact, they were so confident, the team commissioned a photograph of them to be taken with the trophy, before the match was played.


Needless to say, they lost the final 2-1. That must have hurt.


But of course, how painful a situation like that is, the key thing is how you react. Preston North End went on to win the competition the following year.


If you've recently had a major and unexpected setback, grieve for it briefly and remove on. The chances are, if you're doing things right, your next big win is just around the corner.


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* For those of you not familar with the phrase, "Don't count your chickens before they've hatched", is an English expression that means you shouldn't assume an outcome until it has actually been achieved.


Copyright Hamish Mackenzie, 2020

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