Norton: Earning and learning our way to success |

Norton: Earning and learning our way to success

When it comes to competitive events, I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy a close game as opposed to a rout, even when it may mean the team that I am rooting for has a chance of losing. You may understand this or feel this way too. A blow out of any kind and in any type of competition loses my interest pretty quickly.

Give me a good buzzer-beater, extra innings, a last-second Hail Mary or field goal, or a 40-foot putt on the 18th hole to win a championship any day.

Here’s the interesting thing. Although many of us enjoy the thrill and excitement of a close game, when it comes to our personal lives and careers, we want the easy wins. We look for the path of least resistance and hope that we can coast down victory lane.

As I was having this conversation with a buddy of mine, and as we talked about some of the easy wins we have enjoyed together and some of the really close calls, we agreed that although it was nice to cruise in with another win at times, it was the competition and energy of winning the close ones that gave us both a greater sense of gratification.

“Put me in coach, I am ready to play today…” John Fogerty sings.

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Every time I hear that song it inspires me to compete. And compete in anything — the game of life, the game of work, any game, just put me in coach, I want to play, and I want to play today.

To compete at anything, and to succeed at the highest level, requires work. And I am not just talking about competitive sports. The business landscape gets more and more competitive each and every day. So when we do practice and work at our craft, whatever it may be, and when we win, the victory feels so much better and tastes so much sweeter. Knowing that we earned it carries so much more meaning than having something given to us, doesn’t it?

Many of my friends and clients are in professional sales roles. They will certainly share that they would never turn down a “bluebird” opportunity, meaning a deal that comes in that they hadn’t really worked for or expected. However, when we start sharing sales stories and winning the close ones, we can all feel the energy shift and the excitement building as if we were still in the process. The feeling of winning gives way to the sensation of being in the battle. We celebrate with a “cheers” for what we have accomplished and encourage one another as we prepare for the next opportunity.

Just like a blowout of a game could bring a case of boredom, a lack of competition and competitive spirit draws us closer to complacency and mediocrity. Colin Powell said it well when he shared that, “The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting in above-average effort.” It’s about effort and not accepting mediocrity, as we also know that talent without effort breeds mediocrity. And if we are going to compete, with any expectation of achieving success, we must work at the level we are capable of working. More importantly, enjoying the experiences, the journey, and the competition that comes along the way.

So how about you? Do you prefer an easy lap down victory lane over a close finish or buzzer-beater? Or do you thrive in the pursuit of success and all the glory and competition that comes with being in the game and winning the close ones? As always, I would love to hear your story at and when we can realize just how much more we earn and learn by competing at our very best, it really will be a better than good week.  

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