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Are you playing to win?

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This post was originally published in Business Scene Magazine

With baseball season fast approaching, I’ve recently watched Moneyball and my time on the MLB Network has seen a marked increase. Clichés abound. As I watch Hot Stove (their show about teams and the trades and signings they’ve made) I think “do some of these teams even know why they’re here?” I’m no manager, GM or owner, but some of these moves—or lack of moves—make me think they are simply filling holes in the roster so they can field a team. I’m sure many are doing the best they can with what they have, but are they even playing to win? Or, are they just showing up? Are they just saying to themselves, “We’re not going to win anyway, but we’re going to try our best and play hard?” I’m not sure the most successful teams just “try their best.” They play to win. They push themselves to the next level. They give 110%. They date supermodels… Don’t think that last one has anything to do with their confidence? I’d argue it does, but that’s another post.

How about you and your business? Are you playing to win? Or, are you thinking “I can’t beat those other guys, so I’m just going to try my best?” When you go to a networking event, make a presentation or follow up on a phone call are you really doing everything you can to make that connection, influence your customers, or get that sale? Or, are you just going through the motions?

I can’t tell you how many people hand me their business card and…apologize for it.

How about your marketing? Are you simply putting together pieces that are “good enough” instead of pieces that really make you stand out? I can’t tell you how many people hand me their business card and, knowing what I do, apologize for it. Don’t apologize! Get it done better! You’d wear your best suit to a job interview wouldn’t you? Every time a potential client looks at your business card, it’s basically a job interview. Why wouldn’t you put your best suit on your business? It’s better to be overdressed and blow them away, than underdressed and trying to explain yourself, despite your look. And I’m not just fishing for work; there are many templates available online which look really nice. A simple Google search and about $10-15 will get you something pretty good.

Even if you’re an employee, you can play to win. You can be that influence on the team that motivates everyone else to do better and work harder. Add a bit of hustle to your step. Take on a responsibility that may seem just a bit too difficult. Be open to picking up the slack. Go the extra mile (Did I already use that one?). And this isn’t all just to get brownie points or kiss up to the boss. If you really go at your job with this play-to-win attitude you’ll be happier knowing you’re making a difference. Even if the boss doesn’t see it.

At the end of the day, you can talk a good game but the ball is really in your court. Step up to the plate and always aim to knock one out of the park instead of just moving the runners over. You’ll be in a league of your own. And, when you see the results, it’s not going to sound so cliché.