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How to Outthink and Outperform Your Competition

Post by Drew Lawson on Mar 20, 2015

I had the fortunate opportunity to play on two CIF championship high school teams and two NCAA championship college teams competing internationally representing the United States.  Competing at this elite level has taught me life and business lessons that continue to impact me as an executive coach, physician and person. Here are a few lessons to outthink and outperform your competition.

#1.  See The Entire Field


One of my best friends was an incredible competitor in and out of the water.  He excelled at everything that he put his mind to. He was renowned for was his uncanny ability to see the entire field. He always knew where the ball needed to go and he made spectacular passes. Awareness of the entire field was key to our success. It is imperative as competitors to step back and be aware of the entire field, and we can only accomplish this if we pause and take the time to look out over our entire business, our industry and our lives. The best competitors take the time to develop their life plan and business vision so that they gain the awareness to succeed in life and business. This awareness comes with the ability to create winning opportunities.

So how do we accomplish this? On-time is a term that we use at building champions to put aside time every week to pull our head out of the water and swim with our head up so that we can see the entire field. I recommend a 4 hour block but many of my clients will take an hour per day or 2x2 hour blocks per week to do this. This On-time is filled with reviewing life plans, business visions, collecting thoughts, working on strategy, vision and other big picture projects. I keep a folder titled: On Time on my computer that I fill with projects that I will tackle during my next On Time.

#2. Culture Wins

Another key to being a successful competitor is knowing that culture wins, and the way culture wins is with attitude and celebrating failure. Many of us have been on or seen teams that had the talent to win, but the negative attitudes caused them to lose. We as a culture, in general, have a bad attitude. We don’t emphasize the positive. We have been trained to point out the negative.  Great competitors possess consistent winning attitudes.I have also been on teams that may not have had all the talent, but they saw all the missed shots and poorly executed plays as steps towards success. These are the teams that saw failure as something to celebrate knowing that each failure leads to becoming a champion.

One way to create a culture that wins is by practicing the Gottman 5:1 rule. Dr. Gottman is a clinical psychologist who has scientifically shown that successful relationships have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments. To create a culture that wins, It is essential to turn up the volume on your positive attitude and complements. The very lowest effective, positive working relationships are those with a 3:1 ratio. I have heard it explained in this way: “Every time you have a negative interaction with someone, it affects them so much that it would take at least 3 positive interactions to shift your relationship to neutral. You deposit 1 coin with each positive interaction into your relationship bank, while you withdraw 3 coins with each negative interaction.  How well is your bank doing in your key relationships at work and at home?  Are you running on empty?

Create a system to consistently praise and compliment your team. We have something called a drop in the bucket in our ER. There is a small bucket and these paper drops in a bin next to it. Any time that you want to compliment and praise someone, you are encouraged to fill out one of these drops explaining the great thing that the person did and then you deposit it into the bucket. What system do you have at your place of work to give a drop in the bucket?

#3. There is no I in Team

Any team that knows each other's strengths and proper roles on the team and can speak each other's language is likely to be on the winning side. A great way to have your teammates back is to know them and be able to work with their strengths and to speak their language. I met a head coach for a college football team who recruited a top running back for his team. When this kid showed up to the preseason, the coach would encourage him using words such as “win” “compete” “succeed” “dominate”.  These words seemed to fall on deaf ears with his new star recruit. So this coach had this young man take an assessment like DISC assessment which showed that unlike his coach who was a high D on the DISC assessment, this running back was a high C on the DISC assessment.

If you are not familiar with the DISC assessment. It is a behavioral assessment that we use at building champions to help know each other better, and it helps us to speak each other’s behavior language. His coach proceeded to talk his language (C) to him with words such as “calculate” “analyze” “detail” “perfection” etc. and his recruit came alive. If you don’t know your team’s DISC, you are at a distinct disadvantage. The DISC assessment is a simple, elegant tool to help you speak your teammates language.

Another key to a successful Team is to over communicate. I can often determine which water polo team will win the game early on in the game by listening to the amount of chatter. The team that is over talking is likely the team that wins. Huddles can be a very effective tool as a key communication team activity as well. We huddle at a set time at least twice per day to check in and get clarity on what our deliverables are for that day and that shift and we will call audible huddles throughout the day to help with critical situations and when a course correction is needed in our management of our patients.

Which of these competitive advantage tools will you implement today in your life and business? Watch this month's webinar to learn more...


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Drew Lawson

Drew Lawson

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