In the 2002 Winter Olympics, figure skater Michelle Kwan was the favorite to win. She was ahead and had the victory in sight, and yet suddenly in one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history a young Sarah Hughes (who was in 4th place) gave the performance of a lifetime, and grabbed the medal right out from under Michelle!
This little story has much to teach about how to run your business, and training initiatives.
Playing to Win
As you consider the phrase "playing to win," what comes up for you? For me, I imagine concepts such as being aggressive, playing smart, playing hard, going all out, taking risks, and other ideas.
An athlete who plays to win is giving every ounce of energy towards attaining the goal, with losing not an option.
Playing Not to Lose
As you consider the phrase, "playing not to lose," what comes up instead? For me, the concept of caution, being careful, playing it safe, not going for it, and other thoughts come to mind.
An athlete playing with this mindset is sure not to take risks. This athlete is sure to be worried about losing, and herein lies the rub. If you are playing not to lose, your sight is on losing, not winning. When your eyes are not on the prize, you cannot win what you do not see!
The famous story about Michelle Kwan illustrates an athlete afraid of losing, so she played it safe to keep her lead. Rookie Sarah Hughes had no qualms about losing (she was already in 4th place). She was not expected to win, and by her own admission, she was skating for the pure joy of it.
Sarah had her eyes on the prize, the goal of skating in perfect harmony with herself and the music, and because of her playing to win, she won!
In our business initiatives, we have the same options. We can play not to lose, or we can put our eyes on the prize and play to win. How are you "playing" your business lately? Are you taking risks you know you ought to, or just playing it safe? Is your strategy to get new business and continue to provide stellar service to your existing clients, or just to hang on to the status quo and try to ride out the storm? Will your strategy be effective in the long-run?
Investing in training and soft-skills is the sure way to set yourself up for victory now and in the long-run. Pulling back on training is playing not to lose. The choice is yours.
"Excellent. Made the course very enjoyable, knew his subject and was very conscientious."
-P. Freeman, Santa Ana, CA.