Young Athletes vs Old Business People

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How can we learn from the other group?

And use that wisdom to dramatically grow our businesses?

As a father of two sports-crazed sons, ages ten and eleven, and as the coach of now more than a dozen of their AYSO soccer and little league baseball teams, I have thought a lot about these questions, and into making the best sense of the “journey of competition.” 

You see, the starkness of youth sports, where score is so unequivocally kept, layered on top of the precious emotionality of youth, who feel winning and losing so viscerally well...

.. it just brings a few fundamental truths and wisdoms about the nature of modern competition right to the surface.

The wisdoms starts with this: No matter how good a young athlete might be (unlike in simpler, less technologically connected times), the Internet and social media make it quickly evident that there are multitudes of bigger, stronger, and just plain old better athletes than him and her out there.

And for sure, while on some levels this can be inspiring and motivating, the very magnitude of the competitive deficit can also be just plain old discouraging.

Modern business is similar, isn’t it?

Don’t almost all of us have now, from all over the world, hundreds if not thousands of able and determined competitors - competing hard with us, on price, on quality, on just plain hustle?

I mean really, no matter how much we are able to reduce costs, does it feel realistic to be able to compete on price with low wage, low regulatory oversight, low tax overseas competitors?

Or, in another dimension, competing in marketing and brand presence with the tech big boys, the Amazons and Apples and Googles of the world?

I call this “competitive baggage,” and youth sports force parents and coaches to confront it as we so often are required to explain, to impressionable young people, the path forward from painful and sometimes heartbreaking defeats. 

I have had the challenge to lead conversations like this on too many occasions to count over the past few years.

And the words and emotions naturally almost always come back to the same theme, to motivation, to why we play the game

To the degree it is for the "material stuff," to see our “name in lights,” it is inevitable that we will feel ongoing anxiety as to our relative abilities and worth.

But to the degree we compete on that most wondrous spiritual plane, for the love of it - of the game, of the work, of clean living, of teammates and colleagues, of healthy and non-envious respect for our adversaries...

...well when we compete like this, we will still have our setbacks and disappointments for sure, but some magical things will come blessedly to our aid.

First, we'll have a lot more fun.

Because loving something is the most fun we can have on this earth, is it not?

And from the fun will just naturally flow more of the hard work and long hours inherent to any pursuit of excellence.

And from this inspired hard work arises that soulful place of artistic expression, where we conjure up and create beautiful and unique products and services.

And even when those creations aren’t so readily differentiated, we make them so through the totality of experience - marketing, sales, delivery and service - that only we and our businesses can bring to them.

Put it all together and we can and will compete very well.

And win
far more than our share.

And have fun and passion everyday, as we do it, too.

How cool is that?

What about your company?  Does everyone in your company have the right kind of love and passion?  For the work? For winning? For leaving a legacy?

Do you need help in getting everyone fired up and rarin’ to go to win new business?

If so, then complete this short questionnaire - and tell us about a key initiative that if you execute upon it properly can propel your company forward in a new and powerful way. 

And we’ll reach out to you with our thoughts to help you.

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