As a Business Consultant I am a much bigger fan of growing your business through creativity and innovation and not through competing for what is often mistakenly perceived as limited resources or market share. I am still however a believer that much can be learned by watching how people compete.
During the first two days the American golf team raced out to an impressive, and what seemed like an insurmountable 10-6 lead, meaning that on the last day they only needed to secure 4.5 of the remaining possible12 points available during Sunday’s single matches.
Teams are awarded a full point if a player is able to win their match outright and one-half point if the match ends in a draw. This means that Europe would need to tally at least two-thirds or 8 of the 12 possible points left to retain the Ryder Cup.
The Americans arrived at the first tee on Sunday with a comfortable lead and what appeared to be the attitude that they had enough cushion or margin that they could afford to lose a few matches and still come out on top.
They seemed to be playing it safe. Their focus appeared to be more on not making mistakes than on attacking the golf course, which was the attitude they demonstrated the first two days of the tourney that resulted in their large lead.
The Europeans took a much different approach, which was dictated more by necessity than choice. Their backs were against the wall and they knew they had to be completely focused on winning every possible point and be aggressive.
So while the Americans were safely shooting for the center of the greens on their approach shots and making clubs selections based more on staying out of trouble than for recording low scores, the Europeans were focused on aggressively attacking the pin and taking the risks associated with a strategy in order to win.
The Americans appeared to be playing not to lose!
The Europeans were playing to WIN! And that is exactly what they did winning the first five matches of the day and 3.5 of the next seven giving them a total of 14.5 points and the honor of retaining the prestigious Ryder Cup trophy.
Regardless of your political views and without endorsing either candidate, the same appeared to happen last night in the first Presidential debate.
President Obama came into the debates with what the polls showed to be a small but comfortable lead in the race for the White House.
Running behind in the polls Romney’s campaign knew he had to shoot directly at the flag if he was going to use these debates to influence the voters thinking.
While Obama, who is traditionally a great orator and communicator, appeared to come across as tempered and calculated in his answers, Romney was energetic, congruent and swinging for the fence.
Romney came across as passionate, aggressive, taking risks and playing to win.
Obama came across more as wanting to play it safe, not make mistakes or, much like the USA golf team, playing not to lose.
Now . . . this is not in anyway a judgment about either the USA golf team or the Presidential candidates.
It would be easy to get sidetracked by trying to argue for or understand what a candidate said, were they totally honest or their facts accurate, were they impacted by the Denver altitude or a variety of other reasons that might explain their performance but that is not the point.
This is more of an observation offered as an example in hopes that you will take a little closer look and get curious as to how you are running your business or playing the game of life.
When you take a close look . . . Are you playing to win . . . or playing not to lose?