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In the NFC championship game last month, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back to pass on the very first play of the game. He was flushed out to his left by a San Francisco 49ers defensive player and in attempting to make a pass, fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the 49ers and led to an early lead for the opposing team.

Wilson ended up playing a terrific game and helped lead his Seahawks to the win and a trip to the Super Bowl. He was asked about the fumble in the postgame press conference and he responded, “Sometimes an athlete needs amnesia.”

He is right. Athletes that don’t develop “amnesia” and forget about their bad plays, end up reliving them in their mind, only to have them continue to haunt them for the remainder of the game. I call it renting space in your brain. There’s only so much room in there and if you use it to dwell on your “bad plays,” then there’s not much room left for all the “good stuff.”

The same is true for us as business professionals. Just like NFL quarterbacks and Major League Baseball closers, we will make errors and mistakes. Heck, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying, right? The all-stars in business have learned the principles of “amnesia.” They move on and go to their “next play.” Unfortunately, many business professionals don’t; not unlike many athletes that end up with short careers.

The danger is that not having amnesia will stunt your professional growth and limit your ability to maximize your success. Ultimately, this not only affects your career and your opportunities, but impacts your life, too. The bad news is that this is easier said than done. We are, after all, humans that have a gazillion thoughts enter and leave our brains daily. The good news is that you can plan to have amnesia. Allow me to explain with my 3 Tips to Losing Your Memory and Thriving:

Work on constantly improving your self-confidence. This is the most important of all three strategies and needs to come first. It’s the foundation. If you have low self-esteem, you will doubt your ability to come back after a bad experience, a mistake or a blunder. You will wonder if you will be “found out.” However, if you have high self-esteem, the next opportunity is a given. You know you will succeed. You know if you play “your game,” you will have every opportunity to win.

Self-esteem is something you can control. First, you remove stinking thinking. You need to talk positively to yourself. I’m not talking about frivolous affirmations that you mindlessly repeat. I’m talking about the true belief that you are good at what you do and effective at helping improve the lives and condition of others. If you believe that, truly believe that, and then you will grow your self-confidence. This isn’t arrogance; it’s genuine confidence.

Get coached or mentored. Business and executive coaches and mentors are adept at helping you vent; talk out issues; discuss failures; and help move forward. You can’t be brilliant by yourself. While coaches and mentors are great at advancing skills, the ability to help change behaviors (in this case negative thinking), may be the most important thing they do. Sometimes you need a pat on the back and sometimes you need tough love. The good coaches know what you need and help you move forward faster.

Be part of a community. I have a small mastermind group with colleagues from all over North America. We meet via videoconference weekly and then in person every quarter. If you commit to telling the truth with each other, then you will discuss failures and foibles. They can help you overcome these issues and similar to a good coach, move forward. This is important because aside from coaching, you need your peers. Peers that you don’t see all the time. Peers that might offer unique perspectives. You need to go find these people outside your comfort zone. While this may not be easy, it’s worth it. They can help you get amnesia, and you can help them, too.

Bottom line — we all face adversity in our business lives. Perspective is important, but it’s not easy to have all the time. In addition, often the bad things happening to you may really be hard. Trying to be The Lone Ranger is dangerous to your professional and personal health.

Important note — you also need to have amnesia on your “good plays.” Celebrate your successes, but move on. If you revel too long and too hard on your victories, you may end up like the character in Bruce Springsteen’s song “Glory Days.” Too much of a good thing is just as harmful as its counterpart.

As we move into the second month of this year, make a commitment to get amnesia. Move past the last play to the next one. By keeping that mentality, you’re more likely to stack up a bunch of winners in 2014!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps business leaders and executives to become stronger leaders, grow their businesses, and enrich their lives. He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at dan [at] danweedin [dot] com or visit his web site at www.DanWeedin.com.

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