Some professionals report feeling overwhelmed trying to make their businesses successful. Some of these same professionals will also tell me about the great time they had playing a recreational sport.
“How about turning your business into a big game?” I asked Eric, the owner of a service business. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you play intensely and aggressively when you’re on the field.”
“But I don’t depend on softball to pay my bills,” he said. “My work is real life, and if I lose, I won’t be able to pay my bills.” I asked him to describe how he plays the game of softball. “When I’m at bat, I swing hard, aiming for the fences. I strike out more than some other players, but I have the most homeruns in our league. I run hard and I’m always looking to steal a base. When I’m in center field, I’m good at anticipating where the ball will land, so that it just falls right into my glove. Also, I keep track of my numbers (batting average, RBIs) — all the important stats. And I’m always looking to improve.”
“Suppose you ran your business the same way you played softball?” I asked. “You would aim for the fences and swing hard. You might strike out a lot, but you’d also have some homeruns, which you don’t seem to have now. You would look for opportunities as if they were bases to steal, and continually work to improve. And you would keep track of your stats.”
“But I’d be taking a risk with my family’s income,” he protested.
“Aren’t you risking it right now by not aggressively growing your business?” I asked. After a moment, Eric understood that the business problems he was facing came from playing his business “game” differently than his softball game — namely, too safely. In his business, he had been playing not to lose instead of playing to win.
We spent the rest of our session coming up with the following rules for upping his business game: