There’s an old saying in the boxing world: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” The implication, of course, is that hard work, day after day, in the cold gym is what enables a fighter to win.
This makes sense in many areas of life. “Sweat more in practice, bleed less in war,” is the basis of the Spartan Warrior Credo, circa 750 BCE. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” is an oft-echoed soundbite from legendary scientist Louis Pasteur.
But how does the notion of preparation apply today, in our complex, tech-enabled, busy lives? How can it drive meaningful business results? Could a thoughtful pre-game strategy fuel better outcomes?
There are nine key questions that elite business leaders, star athletes, and top musicians ask themselves before important performances in order to prepare themselves to win. Try asking yourself these same questions before your next important sales call, presentation to investors, team meeting, customer visit, or brainstorming session:
1. What is single most important desired outcome?
2. Why does this outcome matter so much?
3. What are the top three biggest threats to achieving the outcome?
4. What are the top three distraction triggers that could lure you off focus?
5. Who needs to support you to drive your desired result?
6. Who is most likely to get in your way?
7. What is the shortest path to the result?
8. What smaller wins need to happen along the way in order to land your bigger objective?
9. How will you know when you’ve achieved victory?
This simple pre-game ritual will help prepare you for success by cycling through the possibilities in advance to formulate your best strategy. Instead of winging it, you’ll be focused, armed for battle, and ready to achieve.
Certainly practicing your craft, doing your homework, or double-checking your gear are critical factors of preparation. But the mental exercise of playing out the match in advance is another important step that can tilt the odds in your favor.
Get your head in the game far before the game begins, and you’ll enjoy a much higher probability of victory.