Are you playing to win or playing not to lose?
Successful entrepreneurs know there’s a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose.
I reluctantly admit that in years past I became quite familiar with what playing not to lose looks like. Fortunately, those experiences now serve to alert me if I ever start wandering down that path again. That’s huge progress, because the unavoidable, absolutely essential first step in creating change is to become aware of what’s not working.
Do you wonder which side of this spectrum you fall on? Then consider the following symptoms of “playing not to lose”:
- you think in terms of “What’s the least I can make do with?”
- you keep your expectations low so you feel you have at least some chance of meeting them
- you hear yourself saying “I’ll try” instead of “I will”
- you dip a toe into new activities rather than commit wholeheartedly
- you default to thinking of The Big Fail when you contemplate possible outcomes of a course of action
- you put some effort into an activity (once), then give up on it if you don’t get immediate results
- you resist implementing a new idea because, as long as you don’t take action, there’s no way of failing and you can still consider success a possibility
Do some of these hit home to the point where you’re cringing as you whimper “Ouch!”? If so, here are some steps you can take to start changing your default setting to “play to win”.
- Be ruthlessly honest in identifying what you want, not just what you’re willing to settle for.
- Put your energy and efforts and attention on your ideal outcome rather than a merely acceptable one (or, worse yet, an outright bad one).
- Eliminate “I’ll try” from your vocabulary. If necessary, channel Yoda’s advice: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.”
- When you’ve strategically, consciously, and courageously decided that a particular course of action will move you toward your goals, identify all the individual steps needed to implement that course of action and start taking them (in priority order).
- Catch yourself whenever you start envisioning a failure and consciously shift your thoughts to what a solid success will look like.
- Commit to an activity for several months. If early results are not what you want, identify what went wrong and how you can do it better next time. (More on this in the 5/8/14 post.)
- Remind yourself that there is no way to experience a positive outcome if you don’t at least make a good-faith effort to achieve it. (As hockey great Wayne Gretzky observed, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”) If you choose not to act, you’ll hold onto the possibility of success, but you’ll never have a chance to experience the reality of it.
So what has been your experience with playing to win? Have you ever found yourself playing not to lose? If so, how did you turn that attitude around? Please let the rest of us know your successes and even your challenges; let’s get multiple good brains working on this together!
(BTW, thanks to Longs and Shorts for posting the trophy image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in mindset, personal power and tagged choice, courage, effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.