If you happen to be a football fan, you’ve probably now heard about the Double Doink. In the final seconds of the Wildcard Playoff game last weekend, the Chicago Bears kicker, Cody Parkey, missed a game-winning field goal attempt by hitting the upright post which rebounded onto the crossbar, and the Philadelphia Eagles win. “The Bears season is going to end on a double doink,” says the television commentator. Now “Double Doink” will be in the history books of the NFL, a game to remember.
What Parkey did was technically very difficult, improbable. From about 150 feet away, he kicked a ball from the ground to hit two 4” posts. If it were something that he wanted to do, there’s little chance that he - or anyone - could intentionally perform. One might say it was impressive, but universally, it was a failure of historic proportion, especially to those in Chicago. The next day, NFL officials re-evaluated the play and ruled that the Eagle’s Treyvon Hester tipped the ball affecting its trajectory after the kick. Maybe Parkey doesn’t get full credit for hitting the goal post, but he certainly did make that remarkable result possible. I suspect Parkey will still get eternal credit for the Double Doink.
Football aside, let’s have some fun and create a general purpose definition for a double doink.
(Noun, plural double doinks)
1. The accomplishment of an improbable feat or an achievement from an impressive effort that results in failure or negative consequences.
What a double doink to have been able to hire that star team member from your competitor at below market salary and they quit during the first week because you had no onboarding.
(also verb, past tense double doinked)
I’m not sure if I’ve had a double doink yet this year, but I know I’ve had plenty over the course of my career. For example, I think back to my 8th startup, IntroNet. I had a fantastic cofounder and investor who made it possible for me to quickly hire a team of top talent and build an innovative product. As far as I’m concerned, we hit both the upright and the crossbar. Yet achieving those feats still resulted in a painful loss - our product didn’t succeed and we ceased IntroNet’s operations. I previously wrote about some of the reasons why, but mostly I think our timing was too late to achieve product-market fit. (Thankfully, the technology was later acquired by SAM, a cool, growing SMB CRM company, so perhaps we had a Hail Mary in overtime?)
What is your double doink, perhaps the biggest one, or the most recent one?
I’ve been contemplating some of the things that you should do to recover from a double doink. Here are five things to consider:
1. Be authentic about it.
It sucks, but it is what it is. Try to look at it from the outside in and without emotion. (Is this the part where I get to pitch coaching?) Despite our noble attempts and best intentions, it didn’t work out as we had planned or hoped.
2. Suck it up, buttercup.
Resilience is one of the keys to success. Own your failure and accept responsibility. Despite your disappointment, don’t complain about it (too much). Dwelling on failure only digs you in deeper into a negative state of mind.
3. Remember the big picture.
Everything we do should be aligned our vision. Take a step back and remember what you’re working toward in the long term. This failure is likely a small setback in the bigger picture. The road to success is paved with potholes.
4. Move On.
After failure, we often have a gap which give us time to think. Don’t let it be too much time to dwell on the risk we took and its aftermath. We may become more risk averse. You know the saying about getting right back on the horse? Determine your next goal or project, build a plan, and get back to work. Be sure to take another risk.
5. Change your scenery.
After a failure, it’s a good time to do something new. Brainstorm. Exercise your creativity. Do what’s next on your plan that gets you closer to your vision. Be sure to incorporate the learning from your failure. While it’s expected you’ll make new mistakes in the future, try not repeat the old ones.
I’m not sure I’ve ever used this many buzzwords and cliches in one post. I hadn’t realized there were so many written about recovering from failure. That must indicate how common and frequent it is. You’re not alone. And it won’t be the last time. Shit happens.
As for Cody Parkey, maybe he can consider #5, change his scenery and move to Philadelphia. Though Chicago is claiming to have forgiven him, he has a lot of big fans in Philly right now. Especially given he was a former Eagle, the City of Brotherly Love would welcome Parkey with big, open arms. (Though not as an Eagle. Try something new.)