Monday, June 02, 2008

How to be more successful

Being successful means making the right choices. When there is a clear distinction between right and wrong, do what's right. Wisdom on doing the right thing:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

Sportsmanship teaches life lessons

Sportsmanship received a good boost recently in a women's softball game between conference rivals Western Oregon and Central Washington universities. A Western Oregon player hit a three-run home run but wrenched her knee rounding first base. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. The umpire said a pinch runner could be inserted, but the home run would then only count as a single.

Two members of the opposing team shocked spectators by asking the umpire if they could help her. They carried the injured player around the bases, setting her down to touch second, third and home. This act of sportsmanship contributed to Central Washington's elimination from the conference race in a 4-2 loss.

"In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much," said one of the Central Washington players who carried her winning opponent around the bases. "It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run."

These three young women have been featured on television shows, in newspaper stories and all over the web. They consistently marvel at the attention they are getting and almost seem embarrassed by it. But I can assure you; their story will be shared for years to come by smart coaches who focus more on how you play the game than on winning at all costs. Although the final score may not show it, they are winners!

Don't you wish everyone thought that way ... that things could be so cut and dried?

Sports and business have many common themes. You play fair, you do your best, you win some, and you lose some. Your competition today may be your teammate tomorrow.

Chris Evert-Lloyd, one of my heroes of tennis, summed it up well: "If you can react the same way to winning and losing, that's a big accomplishment. That quality is important because it stays with you the rest of your life, and there's going to be a life after tennis that's a lot longer than your tennis life."

I often promote golf as a valuable sales skill, since so many deals are closed away from the office. Poor sportsmanship can be a deal-breaker, however. I can tell a lot about a person from how the golf game goes. Funny how often it mimics our business negotiations.

I'm careful to keep my emotions in check, whether I hit a hole-in-one (in my dreams) or double bogie (my usual nightmare). Hey, if you can't play together, working together could be tough too.

I'm an Olympics junkie and getting ready to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Did you know that there is an oath that is read by an athlete from the host country while holding a corner of the Olympic flag? A judge also reads it, with slightly different wording. Here is the oath as written by Baron Pierre de Courbertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games in 1890:

"In the name of all competitors I promise that we will take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the spirit of sportsmanship for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."

Good sportsmanship learned at an early age is a critical life lesson. Life is a game in many ways, and how you play the game affects how much you get out of it. Little kids, who play for the sheer joy of it, often have a natural understanding that things can't always go their way. But they go back out and play anyway.

A Little League baseball coach called over one of his players for a conference.

"Do you understand sportsmanship and what it means to be a team?" he asked the little boy.

"Yes," the boy replied.

"And do you understand that all that matters is whether we win or lose together as a team?"

Tugging his cap, the little boy nodded, "Yes."

"So that when a strike is called," continued the coach, "or you're out at first, you don't swear and curse or attack the you understand all that?"

The little boy nodded, "Yes."

"Good," said the coach. "Now go over there and explain it to your mother."

Mackay's Moral: How people play the game shows something of their character. How they lose shows all of it.

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