If the 2017 Super Bowl champions played the 1967 Super Bowl champions, what would be the outcome? Most likely, it would be a rout – a basketball score for the winner, possibly a triple digit score. The great Vince Lombardi Packers destroyed by the Patriots – how could that be? It would happen through 50 years of nonstop competitive evolution.
When the only thing you do is compete and spend all your waking hours, in fact your entire life, trying to win – you get better, a lot better. The size, strength, speed and quickness of just the linemen, whether on offense or defense, would be a great enough advantage for the Super Bowl 51 champs to destroy the Packers of '67. Think of your own organizations and how they have evolved over time. How did they change? I have 30-plus years of history at my company to reflect on that thought. The evolution of change and innovation has been equally as great as my NFL example. Comparing where we were when I started, it just blows me away how far we have come.
I love competition and I am wired to compete, sometimes to a fault. I recall trash talking to my seven-year-old son during a game of Chutes and Ladders. That’s just how warped an untethered competitor can be. I wonder what I did to my son’s psyche from those early competitions? He is 26 now and I think he turned out OK, I say tongue in cheek with a question mark.
During high school I would cut classes so I could work out more to be more competitive. In college, all I cared about was competing. School was for sports, right? I competed in two sports during college, an individual sport in the spring and a team sport in the fall. I much preferred team sports as they relate to life and just the overall dynamic, a team win is an indescribable feeling. We may see business as war but I prefer to use the sport/competition analogy as it is less violent.
In business, I have the same mindset – COMPETE! There are times that I go through a phase of an overflow of operational and bureaucratic noise and I lose my way, mired in what I don’t like to be involved in. This barrage of cacophony waters down and usurps my competitive spirit. The fact is I am writing this article to reenergize my passion for competition to get those innovation juices flowing! All of you reading this have had this happen to you – weighed down by the junk of running a business.
I am in many ways a person of the glass-half-full group. If my company were cheese, it would be Swiss cheese, because all I see are the holes. The empty spaces of our ineffectiveness. For a competitor, that just means an opportunity to get stronger, because a competitor never rests on his laurels.
Do I respect my business competitors? I not only respect them, I need them. We need competition and in the absence of competition, I think a good manager will manufacture it. My overall won/lost record is probably not very good with the caveat that I always think of a loss as an education. I can apply those lessons to both myself and my company’s evolution. I am always on the lookout for the next “business athlete” who can join our team. I do my best to recruit for those types. You know the kind of person I mean; they are a lot like YOU.
I will leave you with three quotes:
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
“Avoid your competitor’s strength, and attack their weakness.” – Paraphrased from Sun Tzu
“If you just think you are good – you are gonna get your butt kicked.” – Don Davies