The gain line

The Coach’s Corner

Smaller Steps, Greater Gains

Mastering Resilience to Maximize Progress

JJ and I share a love of the sport of Rugby. In South Africa, where I was born, rugby is a sport that borders on religion. We won’t endeavor to explain the rules here but rather emphasize the notion of the “gain line” as a metaphor for centering yourself amid the market headwinds we are all experiencing.

The gain lineThe gain line, in the sport of rugby, is an imaginary line drawn across the pitch at the point where there is a breakdown in open play, such as a ruck, maul or scrum.

Advancing across the gain line represents a gain in territory.

Let’s invest a moment focusing on resilience. Each of us may have our idea of what resilience means, and that’s ok. Here’s a powerful way to adapt and apply the trait in your daily life.

Resilience is more than simply bouncing back. It’s cultivating the ability to rise to any moment and push beyond it, no matter how challenging or unexpected that moment may be.

The specific skills that make this possible:

  • Effectively adapting in the midst of a challenge
  • Clearly defining the next gain line you’re working toward
  • Creating a strategy to reach that line
  • Putting in the focused effort to make it happen

Let’s take this a step further. When it becomes clear that a defined goal is truly out of reach, most of us tend to fall into the trap of polarized thinking. It’s as if we’re standing at a crossroads with only two possible paths forward: either give up the effort entirely or cross your fingers and attempt some crazy last-ditch action (think the proverbial Hail Mary pass in football).

Fortunately, in many situations, there’s also a third, less obvious option. You can choose to reevaluate the goal line you set initially, then recalibrate your focus to a closer, more attainable gain line. In other words, if you’re stuck because the distance between Point A and Point B is too great, you can gain a strategic advantage by moving Point B closer.

This isn’t cheating. It doesn’t mean you’re throwing in the towel or lowering expectations. And it isn’t failure – you can achieve greater progress by breaking your journey into a series of deliberate, incremental steps. And once you’ve reached that closer gain line? Establish the next one. And the next. It’s all about momentum. That’s how games are won.

  • To recap:
  • Don’t let the illusion of polarization get you stuck
  • Create closer, more attainable Point B/Gain Lines
  • Deliberate, incremental steps lead to exponential results

Many people are surprised at the powerful outcomes that can flow from this relatively simple shift in thinking. Try it for yourself, and I’m betting you’ll agree. =

You’ve got this.

Hendre CoetzeeHendre Coetzee is the founder of the Center for Advanced Coaching (CAC) and serves as’s Executive Coach. He works with C-Suite leaders and teams exploring uncharted territory. Together, they find a way, chart a course and get things done. CAC coaches offer the best advanced frameworks and tools for exec team transformation and individual performance optimization.