I hope you're having a good week! Yesterday I had a meeting with my Mavericks Mastermind and we discussed the book "Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most" by Greg McKeown, a book I highly recommend as an empowering guide to achieving your goals. It was an awesome, inspiring conversation with a bunch of badass entrepreneurs. If you're interested in joining us, respond to this email ([email protected]) and I'll let you know how to get an invite!
The book and our discussion got me thinking about the distinctions between winning and losing, so I decided to write a bit about that this week.
Business Is A Battlefield — 6 Distinctions Between Winning and Losing
As the son of an Air Force Colonel who spent the entirety of my childhood growing up on military installations and with military people, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I look at war as a fitting metaphor for both life and business. The main difference between war and life being that wars are generally campaigns fought with definite beginnings and ends, and life being one continuous “battle.”
The longest battle in modern history was the Battle of Verdun fought between the Germans and French during World War I, from Feb 21, 1916 – Dec 18, 1916.
In this battle, the Germans lost 143,000 men, and the French lost 162,000. There were over 300,000 additional casualties that didn’t result in death.
Think about that…
Over a period of 10 months, over 600,000 people were injured or killed in this single battle.
While that number is astounding, consider a few more facts:
- The battle was designed by the German army to be a “meat grinder” from the very beginning, with no particular goal other than to wear the French down.
- Nine villages were completely wiped off the face of the earth during this battle. All that remain to this day are a few signs indicating a town used to exist.
- The French relied on ONE ROAD to supply the entire battle. The road was later renamed “La Voie Sacrée” (“The Sacred Way”) to commemorate its contribution to the effort.
- The French, widely considered to have WON the battle of Verdun by simply outlasting the Germans. This allowed the British to launch an assault on the Somme river, redirecting the Germans' attention from Verdun. Massive additional casualties were inflicted on the Germans' at the Somme, causing some to say that it was, “the defining moment for allied victory.”
While it's accepted that the Germans lost the Battle of Verdun, the reason for this loss is a point of contention among historians for over 100 years. Some attribute the loss to the hubris of the German leadership, while others point to poor planning and disorganization, and still, others suggest that the German army just wasn’t strong enough for the task at hand.
From the French side, they point to the courage of the troops to stand their ground under the most extreme of circumstances, the ability of the French commanders to rapidly change course and try new strategies, or the selflessness of the French soldiers and their desire to save their comrades.
So what does this have to do with business?
“As in War, So In Life.” -Robert Green
("The 48 Laws of Power, Mastery," "The Art of Seduction") ,
My version of this maxim, “As in life, so in business.”
To that end, I often spend time with my small business and entrepreneur clients discussing the attributes necessary to “win the war” vs. the attributes that “lose the war,” concerning their business (and life) endeavors.
I believe that making this distinction, and choosing the winner’s path whenever possible, is key to sustaining entrepreneurial success and fulfillment.
Here are the six distinctions between "winner" and "loser" behaviors that I think are most important for entrepreneurs to consider:
1.) Courage vs. Cowardice
Often, the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do. We see this in our everyday interactions with our peers, as well as in nearly every area of business. Courage is the ability to be fearful, yet despite fear, make strong decisions knowing that the outcome isn’t guaranteed. Cowardice is a trait wherein fear and excessive self-concern override doing or saying what is right, good, and of help to others or oneself in a time of need. The ability to be courageous in the face of our fears is a defining characteristic of success.
2.) Fortitude vs. Resignation
Like courage, fortitude is required by a winning leader, especially in times of uncertainty. Fortitude is the application of courage over a long period of time. Too often entrepreneurs give up TOO SOON—often right before a breakthrough. Fortitude is the act of sustaining effort, throughout failure, over time. Resignation is the acceptance of failure as inevitable. In his book, "The Dip," by Seth Godin, illustrates the secret to pushing through extended periods of strife (i.e., fortitude) is using “strategic quitting,” to get focused on the things that matter most and to eliminate those things that don’t. This fortitude “hack” can help even the most destitute entrepreneur press through those trying moments of challenge and achieve success.
3.) Discipline vs. Negligence
Willpower seems to be finite. The sheer command to, “just do it,” isn’t enough. We must activate discipline to consistently and systematically do the difficult things to have success. When you have discipline, you have self-control. Negligence is the pure lack of self control; the inability, or, perhaps more accurately, disinterest, in doing the things that we know will propel us forward in a consistent way over time.
4.) Sacrifice vs. Greed
Sacrifice is the act of giving up something valuable for something more important or worthy. Greed is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed. As entrepreneurs, we're attracted to the idea of “having it all,” and we make decisions based on the notion, "having MORE is good." The wise entrepreneur however, consistently prunes and simplifes to focus on things that help himaccomplish his goals. The trick isn’t adding more, it’s taking away.
5.) Temperance vs. Agitation
Overreaction is the end of many entrepreneur's dreams. Temperance is the act of allowing upsets to occur without the need to forcefully react in an immediate fashion. The temperate entrepreneur knows most challenges are not what they seem. The agitated entrepreneur makes hasty decisions without considering the long-term consequences of their actions, thus unknowingly placing themselves in peril.
6.) Confidence vs. Self-Doubt
“You Are Worthy,” a phrase we all need to be reminded of. The isolation and uncertainty of entrepreneurship make it difficult to know if his actions are right or wrong. The confident entrepreneur has faith that he will act in a right (intuitively "right"), or effective way, and moves steadfast toward those actions. The lack of confidence in one’s self or abilities drives habits that keep the entrepreneur stuck in “safe mode,” unable to make the big moves required for sustained success. Driving out this self-doubt is a key indicator for success.
Which entrepreneur will you choose to be?
And with that... I hope you have a great weekend,