Learning to Love the Unknown

by Scott Leonard

Yves Klein - Leap into the unknown

We were recently invited to tender on a project for a very prestigious organisation. We believed we could not only win, we left the final meeting secretly thinking we had. Sure, we did the customary ‘big career loses’ conversation on the journey home to humble the young members of the team and steady our giddy nerves.

Promised news by Friday, assuming it would come late in the day, no phone rang. Sadly, I opened an email and my heart sank reading the news; ‘Unfortunately, we have decided not to invite The Champion Agency to undertake this project’. Deciding not to share the sad news over the weekend, I had time to digest things and regain a positive perspective. However, I wasn’t looking forward to Monday’s status meeting. This wasn’t because I had bad news to deliver, but because I had to reassure everyone that much like two weeks ago, prior to the invitation to tender, something else we didn’t yet know about would be just around the corner. Persuading our young team to hold fast and trust in the future was harder than I imagined it would be, because I didn’t want to sound like a clichéd old-timer, despondent loser or heartless robot.

It’s worth noting at this point, Champion’s workflow is carefully nurtured with future projects and retainers planned and scheduled. The prestige of the perspective win was greater than the financial reward, but back to the focus of this post: learning to love the unknown…

Monday morning was strangely quiet with everyone coming to terms with the news, no doubt contemplating what could have been, or what they missed out on working late on the proposal. To my surprise I too found myself feeling those familiar pangs of loss I knew the rest of the gang were going through. Regardless of almost twenty years of managing professional disappointment even I was allowing myself to forget about the power of the future and shimmy towards despair.

At 10.54 the phone rang, a slightly nervous head of communications from another significant organisation wanted to discuss the possibilities of big re-branding project following a strong recommendation from a respected CEO. 15.17 another call, again out of nowhere, to talk about another project.

I called a quick meeting later that afternoon to relay the positive news that the ‘unknown’ had called twice. Maybe believing in the future was no bad thing. It really reminded me, it may take a little bit longer and a lot more effort to love the unknown, but it’s always worth it regardless of how old or experienced you are.

By Scott Leonard of Champion.