Three Tuesday Notes on Winning Ugly Together

1. Brad Gilbert and Steve Jamison’s book Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis puts winning down to three key actions: getting an edge before the game by sticking to your core; obsessive focus during the game; and playing smart by controlling the controllables. He talks about playing smart against Boris Becker. Gilbert knew he was no match for Becker’s power shots so played a soft hitting game that put Becker off his rhythm and won the match. Control the controllables. It’s about not getting distracted when things don’t go your way (a real life inevitability) and staying focused on flexible, rigorous execution of what’s core. Adjust accordingly to circumstances and execute immediately. Take that to work tomorrow.

2. Nothing favors the brave more than in tough times when everyone else hunkers down and waits. In the mid-1970s the U.S. saw unemployment reach 9%, inflation surge 11% and the stock market crash 48%. Most people hunkered down while Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft, Frederick Smith launched FedEx, Michael Ovitz opened Creative Artists Agency, Time launched the game-breaking People magazine, and Saatchi & Saatchi got its sea legs as global change agents. These people knew that inspiration trumps desperation.
3. To understand “Together” you need to understand Geese. One of the greatest Saatchi & Saatchi ideas ever made (in Wellington many moons ago) is the two minute “Lessons from Geese”. Two examples:
  • As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an ‘uplift’ for the birds that follow. By flying in a ‘v’ formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent extra flying range. Lesson: People who share a sense of community can help each other get where they are going more easily …because they are travelling on the trust of one another.
  • When the lead goose tires, it drops back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position. Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as
    when we are strong. Take turns doing the hard tasks.
Honk if you’re Ugly.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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