Sylvia Trench died this week. If you do not know who Sylvia Trench is (she is a character in a movie so she lives on forever) how about the following line “There, you made me miss!” Still no clue, how about “Too bad, just when things were getting interesting”? Still not ringing a bell, then how about the immortal line uttered to her by Sean Connery, “The name is Bond – James Bond”? Now do you remember? She informs today’s blog post on working through issues.

Sylvia Trench, played by Eunice Gayson, was the original Bond girl, appearing in the open sequences of the first Bond movie, Dr. No and she is the only Bond girl to have appeared in two Bond movies; Dr. No and From Russia With Love. Gayson had a long career in British theater, television and movies. Yet it was her approximately 5 minutes of screen time in the first Bond movie that forever cemented her in the filmdom firmament. The issue she worked through was meeting up Bond long after midnight after making his acquaintance over a Chermin de Fer table at the Le Cercle at the Les Ambassadeurs Club. Somehow, she gets into his apartment, changes into something more comfortable (one of Bond’s oxford shirts and nothing else) and settles into practice her short game chipping while waiting for Bond to arrive back from an urgent meeting with M at headquarters.

To show I can certainly mix cross-cultural references and metaphors to create a blog for compliance practitioners, Trench’s mental acuity leads to an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) by Sue Shellenbarger, entitled “Trouble at Work? Baseball is Here to Help,where she channels her inner Yogi Berra to demonstrate that only half the game is physical; the other 90% is mental, stating, “in the workplace, the game’s great myth is that talent always wins. In reality, athletes’ hidden game, the mental one, can override some deficits in skill”. She provides five tips for using psychology to bring out your A game at the work place.

Tune out the crowd noise

The key here is to focus and not let your mind race. One technique which I sometimes use when speaking is to focus on one thing in the audience or room. However, Dr. Ken Ravizza takes that technique a step further advising, “choose a focal point to look at during tense moments, such as a foul pole or spot on their glove, and imbue it with special meaning. Tell yourself, “I have worked hard and I belong here.””

Succeeding in failure

Many professionals never want to fail or even be seen to fail. Yet Tom Watson, when he was President of IBM, wanted his top brass to have gone through a failure to see what lessons they would take away and how they reacted to the stress. In baseball, the reality is that even the best players fail at bat 70% of the time. The author once again quoted Dr. Ravizza for the following, ““Failing can be better than succeeding if you use it as a chance to work on what you need to learn””. He added that you should compare “your thoughts, feelings and actions when you’re doing great v. when you’re struggling” so you will have a roadmap.

Just as the Department of Justice (DOJ) requires a root cause analysis of what went wrong when a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violation occurs, batters use their failures at the plate to analyze what went wrong. One private equity guru was quoted ““When you have that many at-bats,” he says, “you learn from your mistakes, you move on and you don’t do it again.””

Taking a two-strike approach

In baseball, batters facing two strikes rarely get to hit the pitch they want. Yet batters are taught to make the most of it, learning to take what pitchers give them even in that situation. Geoff Miller noted, “The same strategy works in everyday life. “Starbucks is out of my coffee, or we’re having a meeting and the internet is down, or someone isn’t calling and I don’t have all the information I need””. Such an approach allows you to be more fully prepared literally no matter what may appear going forward.

Have some fun

While those words may not seem to apply to many corporate positions, I think most compliance practitioners are very passionate about their jobs. Yet by doing so, they may inadvertently put too much pressure on themselves. The author noted, “Jonathan Fader, a former mental-skills coach for the New York Mets, coached a self-employed trader who worried so much about hitting his monthly profit targets that his performance began to slide. He advised him to let go of the outcome and focus on attaining the mental state he hoped to experience after he succeeded—calm, masterful and capable of quick, rational decisions. The trader created a new set of performance measures to rate his own enjoyment and calm, and began grading himself on those yardsticks several times a day, says Dr. Fader, author of “Life as a Sport.” By improving his performance on measures he could control, the trader began netting better monthly results.”

For the compliance practitioner, that means focus on moving the ball forward. Given the DOJ’s admonition to operationalize your compliance program, you have a roadmap in place. By keeping track of your progress you not only give yourself steps of success to aim for, you also have a record of achievements if a regulator comes knocking. The reality is a job well done can have many levels of satisfaction.

While Sylvia Trench’s approach was in many ways the direct approach, using some of the techniques cited in Shellenbarger’s article can help you ride out the vicissitudes of a corporate compliance role. It turns out there are many examples for the compliance practitioner from both film and sports that can help to inform your role.

For the YouTube clip of the first meeting between Trench and Bond, click here.

For a YouTube clip of Trench working on her short game in Bond’s flat, click here.

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© Thomas R. Fox, 2018