24-hour Rule

An effective leadership policy for both celebration and pity.

Can you remember the last time you experienced a great day when everything just seemed to go right? When it all clicked and you just felt lucky?

And can you recall a bad day, when it felt like you simply couldn’t catch a break? You might have spilled coffee on your shirt, discovered you had a flat tire, or maybe lost a big client.

Over the years I have learned to adopt a 24-hour rule, a policy I learned from my dad, which allows me 24-hours to celebrate a specific accomplishment or to agonize over a particular setback. My dad encouraged me to feel the emotions of success or failure as deeply as I could during these 24-hours. He wanted me to recognize these feelings so I was better prepared to deal with them when they reoccurred.

I applied this same thinking when I coached AAU basketball. We allowed our players a maximum of 24-hours to celebrate a victory or wrestle with a recent defeat. After 24-hours, it was time to put the previous day’s events behind us and start concentrating our energy on preparing for the next opponent.

The same analogy is true in both our business and personal lives.

Every morning we are presented with a new beginning, a clean slate. If we dwell on the misfortunes of the previous day, we risk overlooking tremendous growth opportunities.

Note to self: We can learn as much—or more—from failure as we can from success.

If you’re having a bad day, I encourage you to give yourself 24-hours for a personal pity party. Seriously, it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself—but only for 24-hours. At the same time, if you had an awesome day, take 24-hours to feel really good about your recent accomplishment. Celebrate, you deserve it. However, remind yourself that your bragging rights for a job well done expire after 24-hours. It’s fine if others want to congratulate you. Be gracious, thank them, and get back to work.

Every 24-hours, we have a new opportunity to hit the reset button. This week, I invite you to adopt the 24-hour rule in your life. Give yourself 24 hours to celebrate or lament an event, then move on. Good or bad, are you willing to let go? The choice is yours. Think it over. You have 24-hours!