I played football for only a short while in high school. I did not follow it after that. I preferred baseball and basketball. Sports is a good analogy to assess your abilities to 'play' any game or operate a business and to judge whether you will succeed.
Something is very clear in football: there is a goal marker on either side of the field. The field is 100 yards long. You have four chances to either run, kick or pass the ball and get it over that 100-yard distance. There are boundaries and rules to play.
You score points for taking the ball across 100-yard line and the team that gets the most points in the end (a timed game)-- wins. The team switches possession of the ball every four 'downs'. Four tries to get the ball moved towards or over the goal, then it's the other team's turn.
The decision on what plays or maneuvers to make in each of those four chances is made by the quarterback. The rest of the team understands their roles and act accordingly.
That's the basic idea. But what can we glean from this game?
Each side has a clear 'aim' to achieve: get the ball over the final yard marker on the opposite side or kick to clear the goal posts. Each team member has a specific role and must act to further the 'aim' of the team, while fending off the opposing team (which has exactly the same 'aim' in mind).
A. So in life or business, there are fixed 'goals' set by others to play 'their' game or some established routine that leads to an end, or it can be a 'game' or goal you wish to put in place.
In order to get an academic degree, you must take courses and past tests to receive a diploma. In order to win at basketball, you have to make more baskets in four 15 minute quarters than the opposing team. In order to be a musician, you must practice daily and play more complicated pieces of music to expand your technique and repertoire. In order to be a successful (conventional) professional, you must follow a program of education and day to day practice. Years of experience or the quick application of skills and management mean that you can charge more for your services or products or that you can deliver them faster and better thus making more money at least. Satisfaction gained from serving others well is also an intangible reward.
B. To conclude: you must make realistic goals based on your personal abilities, have available time and resources to learn your craft or skill, and motivation to succeed. There are always seemingly attractive shortcuts and quicker ways to 'make big bucks'. A profession is not built on shortcuts though.
You cannot achieve any goal by a lack of ability or means, by not taking the time to hone your competence or expertise, and by not motivating yourself to set a schedule and step by step program to achieve your goal.
There are three basic scenarios that will lead to failure:
1. Having a dreamy goal to be 'rich and famous' without the attendant means and effort -- which will not get you anywhere.
2. You may have the means and goal in mind but do not wish to 'pay your dues'. Same result: you cannot reach your goal.
3. You may have time and energy to make a go of it but do not have the necessary foundation to move forward or a clear goal in mind. You will not succeed.
You may learn, after following one or two of the three activities above that something is not working and you are not getting closer to a level of achievement. Many of us flounder after getting the foundation and do not continue to apply our skills.
Get additional information and tactical knowledge from sources beyond the typical educational system. A mentor may be ideal. Seminars, articles, blogs, books, and private testimonials on cutting to the quick is also in order.
As I related in an earlier post, my sons were tall and motivated to play basketball. They were encouraged by coaches who saw their potential. The younger son found the pressure too much and quit in his Junior year in high school and eloped. The older son pushed hard and realized in early college play that there were too many competitors who were much better than he was. He could have stayed 'in the business' and coached or become a sports physician, etc. But he switched tracks completely.
Sports and music - the entertainment world - is a high stakes game where some early 'talent' can be whipped into stardom. The risks are very high, the rewards high but the failure rate is astronomical. Even with great motivation, but without superior ability and staying power, you cannot succeed. And in these high reward big money enterprises there are, unfortunately, managers and agents - publishers and attorneys - who are there to cut out a huge part of the winnings.
In business, the road is clear on what needs to be done. With preparation and motivation and ability you can 'make it'. In sports games there is 'strategy' and so in business. Strategy is developing a plan of action to achieve an aim. Tactics is harnessing the available resources to follow and execute the strategy. The rest is psychological. You can call it a determination or will to succeed, self-motivation. Think about the locker room talks coaches have with their players. It is about motivation.
TACTICS for Business
A. The quick break: see an opportunity and act quickly to get ahead
B. The fake: your competition will read you going in one direction while you take a better route to your goal
C. Full court press: resist your competition man to man, hold them at bay while you maneuver to your goal.
D. Forward pass: while the competition is rushing you, operate above and beyond their ability to block you, bypassing their strategy.
E. Steal the ball: while your competition is mismanaging their tactics, take the opportunity and position yourself to get your services contracted.
F. Drafting: stay right behind the leader as he/she breaks through the pack and gain momentum, timing, and speed.
G. Keep your head in the game: maybe one of the most important to keep in mind. You cannot forget the game and be distracted or complacent. You cannot 'set and forget'. The game is ongoing and the players change and rules are altered, like laws. Nothing is immutable.
H. Be flexible and adapt: Technology changes, the market changes, competition increases, resources may dwindle, politics and social mores affect how people think and act. Keep on top of your game at all times.
The coxswain (or simply the cox) is the member who sits in the boat facing the bow, steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers - by communicating to the crew through a device called a cox box and speakers. (Wikipedia)
I. If you are in charge: Keep your staff informed, educated, and motivated. Make sure they respect you as you lead your company. Reward them when they do well and coach them back when off track.
We are surrounded by competition who is mastering every possible way to brand and market goods and services to gain a larger and larger percentage of 'market share'. The corporate companies have huge budgets and the small players are marginalized. Creating your niche may be a way to overcome this disadvantage.
Have you heard the idiom: "level the playing field"? It is about playing by the same rules. But the 'rules' in business can be broken in legal and illegal ways. We have to watch out for those who are unscrupulous.
Right now, after ten or more years relying on digital methods, I see more opportunity and success in going back to the tried and true methods: personal contact and relationship building. Physical and psychological persuasion through print ads, flyers, mailers, cold calls, etc.
That is not to say abandon the internet, social media, SEO, etc. -- because there is a coming generation that was babysat and raised with digital devices, and now believes in their use explicitly and operates day to day using mostly these methods alone and we need to use them also to make connections. This generation actually prefers the text, email, and social media in many of their pursuits and entertainment over human interaction.
Digital media and communications is actually a cost-effective way of posting your business and marketing it. The question is: how effective is it per hour and dollar vs. personal contact and physical advertising.
Best wishes for a positively motivated, strategically planned and tactically successful life and business~~~!
If you would like more ideas on strategy, tactics, and motivation by members of AR see the Mother Of All Blogs here!
And if you are motivated to build but don't have a strategy or tactical plans (blueprints!) you will need to consult an architect to create the best design for your investment, keeping in mind the many steps and items required to make your vision a reality.