The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Tuesday, February 01, 2022
Volume 27 | # 641
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"The master has failed more than the beginner has even tried." » Stephen McCranie

Don't Be Surprised

It seems that half of the conversations I’ve had with bankers over the past few months have involved staffing challenges.

Some of their stories – or the telling of them, anyway - have been funny.

Get several managers in the same room or on the same call and the game of, “Oh, I got a better one than that…” easily ensues.

I’m often reminded that finding ways to laugh (at least a little) in tough situations beats screaming.

During one recent conversation, an area manager told me of the recent departure of one of her top employees. It hit her out of the blue.

She said there were others on her staff who frequently seemed like they had one foot out the door.

Had some of those folks given their notice (and that’s apparently a big assumption these days) she wouldn’t have been shocked.

But this person had been with the company for several years and was a rock-solid employee.

He was punctual, dependable, and never complained.

Hearing that, I thought to ask the group, “Have any of you ever given a notice that you were leaving a job that caught your boss off guard?”

After reflecting for a bit, most said they had. One chuckled, “Yeah, I remember thinking, ‘How in the world can you be surprised by this’ when a former boss told me he was shocked I was leaving.”

I suggested that most of our better team members are professional enough not to show when they are upset or discouraged or feeling unappreciated.

The funny thing is that most would tell you they think it’s obvious they feel that way.

Another funny (or sad) thing is a discouraged good employee is likely to still be performing more professionally and reliably than…shall we say…less-than-stellar team members.

And while those dynamics exist in the best of times, few would call the past year the best of times.

During challenging periods, when managers seemingly jump from one crisis to the next, it’s easy to only pay attention to the things and people causing (or maybe simply exacerbating) crises.

Now, it’s quite possible - maybe even likely - that your best employees are feeling absolutely appreciated.

But the time to find out is before you’re surprised.

Brief chats and sincere expressions of appreciation cost little.

Their value, however, can be immeasurable.

Invest in a few of those moments this week.

It's How You Handle It

Every now and then, I hear something on a podcast or video that has me reaching for the rewind icon.

That happened this week when one of the folks on a podcast shared what a mentor sent him.

The mentor was a fitness guru named Mark Bell. He texted his mentee a simple message that morning: “Life is…low key… how you handle losing.”

I was alone on a running track at the time, but loudly stated, “Preach!” to…well…no one. It just seemed like something that deserved affirmation. 

I frequently tell groups that I won’t tell them not be afraid of failure. It’s okay to be a little afraid now and then. In fact, being a little afraid of failure tends to focus the mind.

A person who has absolutely no concern at all about (figuratively) falling on their face usually doesn’t perform to their best. 

Whether you’re stepping on to a playing field, standing up to address a group, heading into an important meeting, or even heading into a sales call, “butterflies” in the stomach are pretty universal.

I point that out to remind folks that the most successful people they know get nervous, as well.

Go ahead and ask them. So, welcome to the club.

I also point out that the most successful people they know have failed…a lot. Beyond that, they continue to fail on a regular basis.

That sounds incongruous to some. They see the successful people around them in their professional and personal lives and can’t remember them failing at anything. 

Hint: Don’t look for it on social media.

You never want to compare your behind-the-scenes life to someone else’s highlight reel.

Heck, even the “business” focused LinkedIn frequently looks like one big pat-your-own-back celebration. 

Few folks are ever on there posting selfies about how honored they are after being told “No thanks” for the 10th time that day.

But that happens far more than you know.

Failures and setbacks aren’t the enemies of success. They are elemental parts of the success process.

It’s a straightforward concept that takes longer for some of us to absorb than others.

And things you learn – including things you learn about yourself – are part of that success process.

We all try. We all fail from time to time.

Some choose to quit, and some choose to regroup and keep taking their shots.

Choose wisely. 


"Try again. Fail again. Fail better." » Samuel Beckett

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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Dave Martin

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Dave Martin has become one of the most prolific writers in the banking industry. His columns and newsletters are read in thousands of financial institutions each month. His keynote presentations, seminars, and podcasts have an authenticity and humor that brings teams of all sizes and seniority levels together.

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