Leadership Organisation Development Team Building

Playing a Bigger Game – by David Lim, Singapore motivational speaker

In the game of professional football in the toughest league on Earth; you are 2-0 down to one of Europe’s best club sides in just 38 minutes.  Their side has player’s worth 100s of millions of dollars, and who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. Your highest paid player gets less than $2000 a week, and your side is playing in the lower divisions. In the ‘magic’ of the Football Association’s all-England knock-out competition, better known as the FA Cup, minnows of the various leagues sometimes get a chance to pit themselves against clubs like Chelsea on their home ground. A few weeks ago, Bradford City did just that and did not win from a fluke last-minute goal. Nor was it from a lucky penalty shoot-out. Instead, they blasted four goals into the net to become the giant killers of the week. Bradford City that night were indeed, playing a bigger game

A few months ago, I resolved to play a bigger game in my business. This is a simple, yet powerful approach to business success, which is already reaping benefits.  Very simply, this is how it’s done:

  1. resolve to play a bigger game – the first step is to commit to a stance where at every turn, proposal produced or received, client encounter and negotiation; you commit to being more ambitious. You resolve to negotiate more creatively, be courageous in saying “no” to things that don’t help you build a bigger business, garner higher revenue streams, or waste your time. So the very first thing you need to develop is the psychology of feeling a deep, deep sense that you and your business can be so much more than it is

2) commit to tackling the big projects this year – move beyond being simply an ‘order taker in your business, be it instructions from the CEO, or working on improving sales by largely getting renewals from existing clients. All my multinational client sales leaders bemoan the fact that so many of their team look out for the low –hanging fruit and do hand wringing when this is gone. Resolve to be like a cutting edge mountaineer or explorer. Look into what areas of your expertise are not being fully developed. Look at new ways to work a market. Looks at new ways to gain better efficiencies from the latest in Cloud or Big Data, saving or gaining your company millions. Almost all the amateur mountaineers I have met in the big mountains, on routes on which you won’t find the typical recreational climber; are of a certain type. They are people seeking to climb harder routes up the same mountain which has an ‘easier’ path up on the other side; and always curious about expanding their abilities. They are committed to keeping insanely fit to better perform at work and at play. Perhaps for some of you, playing a bigger game will be losing that bulge on your tummy.

  1. Improve processes and habits that support a goal. One of the most underrated aspect of goal-getting and goal-setting is the actual habits that will support it. Are your staff habitually thinking of how something wont work versus figuring out how it will work? I sometimes share a story from my 1998 Everest climb where we wanted to create a satellite communication systems centred around a Macintosh system of laptops. Singapore Telecommunications said it would not work as all the supporting infrastructure of SATCOMs was built around Windows-based operating systems. The largest TV station in Singapore said the same thing, as did engineers of Nera Telecommunications; the satellite telephone makers. After six months of trial and error work, two unpaid undergraduates from a local university (none of them from a hard sciences background) created a solution that worked beautifully. By having nothing to lose, the team was motivated to raise their game, and to show the “experts” how wrong they were. Develop processes and habits that will raise your game to a higher level

4) Anchor the processes to a specific ritual. In the field of cognitive psychology, we can develop deliberately or accidentally, specific anchors that can help or hinder us. For example, when I complete a particularly profitable agreement, I imagine clenching my fist and saying to myself in elation: “Yes-sss!”. By repeating this process, just imagining the action elevates my mood and helps me commit the same level of effort to a specific task. Similarly, a negative anchor can pull you down; for example , mentally revisiting a failure in a highly self-critical way repeatedly can trigger waves of despair and feelings of uselessness through mention of just the name of that incident or event

  1. Reward your brain –  Oxytocin is  a natural chemical that is produced when your brain rewards itself – it stimulates the pleasure centres and production can be triggered in a number of ways. One way, is to be in a group that produces a strong sensation of elation and achievement.  The “great teamwork” effect of Bradford City’s efforts fed into this cycle or loop, reinforcing the enthusiasm and commitment to beat Chelsea. So, in what way do you surround yourself with people who help produce this effect in you?

Our bookings for paid work in the coming month is the highest in 15 years of our business, as is our year-on-year revenues; which are up by 20%. Yet nothing substantive has changed in our offering, marketing spend, or market approach. We’ve simply resolved to, on every front, play a bigger game.  Will you do the same?

David Lim is Asia’s Motivation Coach, and best known for leading the 1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition. Since 1999, as a motivational speaker and coach, he has helped organizations build teams and grow leaders. Send him a note today at [email protected] to subscribe to his leadership e-newsletter.

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