Winning Fair

I’m really sorry the World Cup is over. It’s amazing to me how the intensity of the event starts out at a high level and just keep growing, reaching its apex during the final, as it did yesterday. Two sides determined to win at all costs and bring home glory. Ah, competition!
Any yet, in every World Cup game we get a business lesson when someone gets hurt.
Most of the time, when a player gets hurt (and I don’t mean the play-acting meant to draw a foul – the players know the difference), the team with the ball immediately puts it out of play so the medical staff can come on the pitch.  Since the team which had possession voluntarily gave it up (they put it out of play, the opposing team gets the ball),  their opponents put the ball back in play and kick it back to them.  It’s good sportsmanship but it’s something else and there’s the business lesson.

It’s one thing to have a “win at all costs” mentality.   We can debate that at some other time.  Regardless of whether you want to stomp your opposition into the ground or just eek out a win, you want the other guys to play well because it adds meaning to your victory.  That, to me is true on the pitch or in business.

When I was in TV, we completed like vicious animals with our network opposition for sales.  Yet if someone on the “other side” was hurt, laid up, or fired, everyone rushed to see what aid they could bring.  I’m sure that’s true in many businesses – your competitors are the folks you want to whip every day but you want them to be <almost> as good as you and you all spend a lot of time drinking in the same bars, attending the same trade shows, and visiting the same clients.

When I got in to consulting, a number of people were very generous to me with their time and expertise as I learned the business.  They could have blown me off – who needs more competition – but they welcomed me into the trade and now spend a lot of time trying to beat me every day.  That’s winning fair.

So where are you on this?  Are you putting the ball out of play to make sure it’s real competition or are you playing on regardless of the quality of the game?  I’d love to know!

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