Nine Simple Pre-Game Questions to Maximize Business Results

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.

Read More

New Thinking for the New Era of Business

Albert Einstein famously noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” In our post-COVID world of ...

When an Astronaut Needs a Pen

Ever get stuck on a problem, only to realize you're solving for the wrong thing? That's exactly what happened when the rocket scientists at NASA ...

How Shake Shack Drives Innovation

Do you prefer the crispy mozzarella, tempura watercress, and black garlic mayonnaise cheeseburger or the pumpkin mustard, bacon, cranberries, and sage hot dog? For something ...

Lady Gaga’s Secret to Creativity

Just before she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, I watched Lady Gaga dazzle the live audience with a pitch perfect performance of ...

Creativity: Does Size Matter?

For some reason, we’ve been taught that for creativity and innovation to count they need to have a magnitude the size of the 1989 San ...

The Lexicon of Creativity

There’s more confusion around the meaning of the word innovation than the chaos at the airline ticket counter after a cancelled flight. Is there a difference between ...

The Brain Science of Becoming More Creative

When we hear stories about iconic leaders like’s founder Marc Benioff, or widely celebrated virtuosos like Lin-Manuel Miranda for that matter, we immediately think ...

Correct the Overcorrect

When the misguided leaders at Enron, Tyco and Worldcom committed fraud and marred their shareholders with huge losses, the Securities and Exchange Commission rightfully swooped ...

Learning to Color

Fact: Creativity has become the most needed skill in business. It’s gone from a nice-to-have to becoming mission-critical. Fact: Creativity is a learnable skill. All humans have ...