Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Goolsby "War Story:" Winning and Lessons Learned From Losing!

As a former federal prosecutor, I was very fortunate to have won nearly every criminal case I ever tried. In fact, in my 20 year career as an AUSA, I lost only one jury trial. It was a relatively minor public corruption case. But the facts of that case aren't important here. And the reasons why I lost this one trial aren't particularly significant here, either.
Instead, the point of this post involves the important lessons I learned from losing this one case. In perspective, the trial occurred very early in my career. I had been a federal prosecutor for only about 18 months. I had expected and prepared to try another criminal case that week. The other case would have been a slam dunk. But that defendant pled guilty at the last minute and I was left to try this other case for which I was, quite frankly, less prepared. I also had a lousy federal agent helping me on the case I tried. For various reasons, I had not pushed him to produce a winning case. And we went down in flames! I felt horrible! To top it off, my parents had come to see me in action that week. Sadly, this one loss -- this one blemish on my otherwise perfect trial record -- would be the only jury trial my father would ever see me try! Sadly, he died soon thereafter.
But I learned some important lessons from this loss. For example, I learned never again to walk into a courtroom without being ready to try all of my cases. I also developed a better work ethic. I also learned never again to settle for a lazy agent's excuses for not helping me to get a case ready for trial. In short, I learned to demand more from myself and from my case agents. As a result, I never lost another federal case!
Looking back, I believe that losing this one case, early on, may have been instrumental in changing the rest of my career. It instilled in me a drive to succeed -- to never again feel the "agony of defeat!" As a result, I believe that this one loss is responsible for helping me never to lose again!
How has losing helped you to become a winner?

No comments:

Post a Comment