The Short Game, in sports this often means ‘playing it safe’, by making the short pass, or by taking the closer easier shot…..sure, by playing this way you’ll make progress, but the chance of hitting that ‘Home Run’ are all that more remote. In order to make real, and amazing progress you eventually have to take risks; on both the things you do and the people you trust (in both sports and business).
We as human beings like to play it safe; it makes us feel secure to keep OUR ducks in a row and not take risks by sharing ourselves and what we have. We have our own little social network that we only feel that we can open up to and allow access to our resources. We want to play that short ‘safe’ game because we know what the results will be, and we know that our network will reap gains from it. This reaches back to ‘caveman times’ when we huddled in our social units; not communicating, not sharing, not TRUSTING in the abilities and awareness of others. Only when we as humans began this process of reaching out did we begin the process of emotional, technological, and social evolution.
It is extremely important that we as a people are able to reach out to others, and expand our knowledge base…..otherwise, we are stuck in our own little world, knowing the same things about the same stuff, and not learning anything (evolving)! Imagine if we never really ‘tried’, if we saw that next mountain and never asked “what is over on the other side?” If we never took the risk to find out! We would still be a people huddled in caves, with no hope for change. https://hbr.org/2013/10/the-hidden-dangers-of-playing-it-safe
Only by playing The Long Game, by taking risks, by being patient, by communicating (with everyone), by sharing, by seeing the ‘Big Picture’ from multiple viewpoints do we achieve tremendous gains on all fronts! That is, after all, one of the main reasons why we are here, isn’t it? To achieve. We are here to be the best people we can be, to create the best product possible, to take care of each other so that we can succeed as a species!
Teamwork has been the human method of survival for many thousands of years, depending on our ‘human team’ for resources and assistance, and like it or not……we are all on the same team, supposedly playing the same ‘game’ (unfortunately not all by the same rules).
There are a number of key aspects to playing The Long Game that makes it easier to not drop the ball. It’s might not be easy for some of us, but it is well worth the effort.
- Shut Up and Listen – Just remember that you don’t know everything! We all know something about something and are experts in our own area(s). The person that you least expect might be able to contribute an idea or resource that could change your; life, business, social standing, or even attitude towards all of the above. You don’t know what someone is going to contribute, so why not give them the chance to voice their opinion or idea(s)? If what they have to say, or for that matter what they can do, doesn’t fit in with what you are trying to accomplish, fine. You haven’t really lost much other than a few minutes of your time, but you have gained the knowledge of what that person is capable of, and what that person knows (and that is GOLDEN). Don’t forget to voice your opinions too, let the group know what you need…..you never know who or what someone else knows! Knowledge is Power!
- Give Credit Where It Is Due – When you do something great (or even mediocre) don’t you want to be recognized for doing it? Sure, we all do. When someone puts effort into doing ANYTHING they want some sort of recognition for doing it, it’s only human to expect this. You don’t necessarily have to throw a party every time the garbage is taken out or every time someone clears a paper jam, but if you want people to keep doing things for you, it is really important to at least give them a ‘pat on the back’ or a “thank you”. Besides, it actually feels good to offer someone recognition, you both get a rush of Oxytocin (one of those ‘feel good’ hormones) and this will make you both want to do it again (this actually gives people further incentive to do an even BETTER job more and more often). http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/04/30/how-the-trust-molecule-drives-business-performance/#7e2b12ec2f13
- Don’t Think ‘You’re All That’ – Sure, it’s great to realize that you are awesome at what you do and that you get things done the way they need to be done! BUT, just remember that somewhere out there is someone who might just do what you do better than you. People like working with people who are humble. When a member of a group expounds on their abilities and accomplishments (especially a group leader), this often overshadows the others and makes less of the group’s successes. Don’t worry, people will recognize your achievements and abilities for what they are; the important thing is the accomplishments of the group. Don’t Make it About You, Make It About The Team! Confidence is Infectious!
- Be Patient – Remember the old saying “Good things happen to those who wait“, it’s actually true! By being patient and taking your time in what you are doing will reap you more rewards than rushing and making a mess of things. By taking your time, by setting achievable deadlines, and by allowing others to keep pace, you will avoid;
- Mistakes – This one speaks for itself. When we rush, we forget steps, we miss key elements, and just generally make a mess.
- Missed opportunities – Very often opportunities will present themselves to add to a project or task, or actually improve on what you are doing. But, if you are rushing you might miss those opportunities.
- Not allowing your job or project to achieve true fruition – Often a project or task requires time and thought to allow it to be completed to its maximum effect (to allow for greater success). By rushing, you might miss out on the maximum return-on-investment (ROI).
- Play Fair – No one likes a cheat! By playing by the rules you level the playing field, allowing everyone to work together better….remember, teamwork! By not playing fair, this causes three things (or more) that are extremely disruptive to the idea of teamwork:
- Kills Trust – When was the last time you trusted someone who didn’t play by the rules? I would imagine probably never. Sure it might somehow feel good knowing that you have the upper-hand and every advantage in the book, but it doesn’t feel so good to everyone else who has to work and play with you! People want to trust that their co-workers and friends can achieve through their own skills and abilities, and not by skirting the rules.
- Causes Confusion – When someone is playing by a different set of rules than the rest of the team, people are either going to; butt heads, or not know what is exactly going on! We humans don’t really like confusion (sometimes it can be fun, but not when important stuff is on the line), we as a species like to know what we have to do, when it needs to be done, and how we can go about doing it. When confusion comes into the picture (especially in business, most of us spend a lot of time trying to figure out why or how something different is happening, rather than focusing on the task that needs doing).
- How Do You Want To Be Remembered – Would you rather be remembered as someone who got things done the wrong way, or as someone who achieved something great the correct way? This is something that we all should ask ourselves when we are trying to accomplish something. Most of us would like to be remembered as someone who has the skill to get this done properly. The group should be able to be remembered for what they got done, and how they ALL worked together to complete the job…that is true GREATNESS! You Can’t Take It With You, But Actions Last!
- And, Give Back – Always remember to share in the spoils of victory (or any other accomplishment). You wouldn’t be where you are today without your friends, family, and co-workers. From the CEO down to the janitorial staff, all of them contributed to where you and your company are today (or they have the potential to contribute). By making everyone feel like they are part of the social group/team they will want to do great things and contribute to the continued success of the group!
Sometimes you have to play The Short Game in order to get things done (when there is a time crunch or an emergency), it’s fine to shift into that mode for the ‘short term’. Never forget the big picture, that the only way to make the really big and profitable advances is to invest in people and utilize their skills and abilities.
True, there are those out there who exclusively play The Short Game; they see the short-term vision and don’t take true risks on people and work, and they do achieve some level of financial and social gain. But fortunately, there are people out there with true vision, with patience, who are willing to take risks on people and resources to achieve amazing gains…..true leaders!