Alex Sink has a bathtub full of life and career successes: a 26-year career at the highest levels of Bank of America, including overseeing the Florida market; elected the state's chief financial officer; numerous community and philanthropic boards; and mom of two now-productive adults.
But it’s a highly public non-success — losing the 2010 Florida gubernatorial race to Rick Scott by some 60,000 votes, or 1% — that Sink lives with every day.
“Losing sucks,” says Sink. “It was really devastating. I was so committed to the agenda I was putting forward. I had all these dreams for our state, and in 24 hours it all turned around.”
Adds Sink: “It’s eight years later and I’m still not over it.”
While the defeat was an admitted stay-in-bed with the comforter over her head crushing moment, in some ways Sink has used the setback to redefine another phase of her life: mentor to tech entrepreneurs, through the Tampa Bay Wave and other organizations.
Sink’s tips for how others can overcome setbacks include:
• Get physical: Exercise every day. After a few days of mourning, Sink says she “realized the sun was going to come out” and she went downstairs in her Thonotosassa home, in east Hillsborough County, to use the exercise bike. That’s what she did before she ran for governor, and it’s something Sink, 70, does today, she adds, every morning while watching "Morning Joe" on MSNBC.
• Get real: Give an honest self-assessment of what went wrong, whether it’s losing out on a promotion, missing a sales target or even losing an election. “You have to be able to admit to yourself what went wrong,” she says, “and fix it the next time.”
'Losing sucks. It was really devastating. I was so committed to the agenda I was putting forward. I had all these dreams for our state, and in 24 hours it all turned around.' Alex Sink
• Get new: Sink has learned to focus her energies on something different. For her, that includes her foundation, Florida Next, and Tampa Bay Wave. “Being able to pivot is so important,” says Sink. “Plan your life so you can adapt and be able to change.”
• Get good: Sink defines success — and scuttling setbacks — by her ability to flip around bad things. “I wake up every morning and my goal for that day is to do a good deed for someone by the end of the day, and usually by noon I’ve met that goal,” Sink says. “It’s that simple.”