Vince Lombardi, the legendary and very successful coach of the Green Bay Packers football (American) team was almost as legendary for his long list of pithy quotes. One of them that I like very much is:
“Winning can become a habit. Unfortunately so can losing”
He could easily have replaced “winning” and “losing” with “positivity” and “negativity”. Both of them can be catching.
One of the drivers in transactional analysis is the “Be Perfect” drive which can be very painful simply because perfection as such is unattainable. This driver can make an individual both frustrated and dissatisfied both of which are pretty unhealthy.
I recall a colleague telling me that when asked how her day had gone, would reply:
“If I had done something different, which I thought about after the event, it would have been much better”.
Her husband, cleverly, would say:
“Before you decide what didn’t go well, tell me what did go well”
Again, on one occasion I was waiting for one of the members of my Vistage CEO peer group in a hotel where we were meeting for his monthly mentoring session. As he came through the door still on his mobile phone, I could see that he was in some turmoil. He sat down and started to bang on about how difficult people could be and what a problem he had and etc, etc, etc.
I stopped him, said that what I wanted to hear was what had gone really well since we had last met and when he had finished telling me that, then he could tell me about his problems.
After some thought and telling me the good news, I asked about his difficulties that had seemed almost overwhelming when he came in.
“Oh, nothing of any significance really” he said.
We had a Vistage speaker from the USA who started the session by saying that the word “but” would be banned from the day and if anyone used it then he/she would be stopped short.
It was quite extraordinary how this seemingly minor adjustment had such a remarkable effect in keeping the level of positivity high.
Someone once said to me that if we use “but” then everything said up to then was nullified. Listen to any conversation and check that one out. Vistage speaker John Cremer demonstrates it by consciously using “Yes, and…” rather than “Yes, but…” and just watch the change in body language as a consequence.
One of the primary functions of the leader is to help the team to make winning a habit, not necessarily in the sporting sense but more in terms of an attitude of mind – the “can do” culture.
When a leader (or a customer for that matter) asks for something unusual the answer should always be “Yes” and then find out how to achieve it afterwards.
Too often we experience that metaphorical intake of breath, the shaking of the head and the negative response that is always a turn off. The winning mentality is an attitude of mind and needs to become a habit in everyone on the team.
It is yet another primary function of the leader to make sure that the winning habit is ingrained into the team. Vince Lombardi certainly knew how to do just that.
As a footnote he also said:
“I want you guys to be fired with enthusiasm and if you aren’t then you will be fired with enthusiasm”.
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