Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!” This statement is true for every effort we endeavor and reflective of the attitude we should have during the process. Over the past year I have seen a growing percentage of people, businesses, and organizations who fail to reach their maximum potential because of fear of failure.
What prompted this rare rant is the same fear ruining one of my favorite shows, Jeopardy. I have been watching Jeopardy for at least 30 years and not only enjoy the trivia aspect, but the gamesmanship of mastering the signal button and strategic wagering. For the past three days, the reigning champion has been defeated because they failed to bet aggressively enough to win. By that I mean if they had wagered all of the money available they would have won, but lose because they were wagering on getting the answer wrong and hoping their opponents did the same.
Back in the 90’s I decided to attend tryouts to become a Jeopardy contestant. The process is three rounds of competition where the large group is paired down to a hand full of contestants who are then invited to the studios in California for another round before making it to the show. The competition is very fast paced and we quickly moved from about 200-300 down to 20 or so before I was eliminated.
After the final group was selected, I was walking to my car and noticed a very collegial conversation going between a group of contestants. As I moved closer one congratulated me and asked if this was my first time trying out. When I told him “yes”, he told me that the average contestant on Jeopardy has tried out at least three times and some as many as five or six. This particular group had followed the tryouts to a few states and this time one of them made it to California.
That conversation gave me a whole new level of respect for Jeopardy contestants because they were not only knowledgeable, but tenacious in the pursuit of their ultimate goal. So you can understand my frustration when I see today’s contestants do all of the preparation to get on the show, only to doubt themselves at a pivotal moment.
As a business strategist, when I am working with nascent entrepreneurs I really try to talk them out of going into business for themselves. I remind them of the statistical improbabilities and how they can achieve many of their goals through increasing their skillset in their current vocation. The ones who look at me like I’m crazy and argue profusely are usually the ones I take on as clients. Winning has far more to do with “attitude than aptitude”, you have to want to win more than you want anything else and “good enough” is failure. Otherwise, how do you justify all of the time, money, and relationships you put on the line?