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Are You Playing To Win Or Playing Not To Lose?


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In many ways, we have let the pendulum swing too far in the “can’t we all get along” direction. While I think it’s a good idea to look out for each other and to live in alignment with our values I think it’s not a good idea to play things too conservatively. The papers this week have been full of research about how Americans are feeling less secure. So with that in mind I want to encourage you to ask yourself whether you are playing to win or playing not to lose. Playing to win involves effectively balancing your willingness to take risks with your ability to look at the down side of those risks. Playing not to lose involves being cautious to a fault and is generally driven by the fear of losing. Losing in this sense could mean a job, a relationship, a big contract, a client, your reputation. It could mean losing a sense of security or certainty.

Playing to win is about being forward thinking AND forward acting.

Here are the steps I suggest for insuring that you are playing to win:

• Make decisions with an attitude of determination and courage
• Be forward thinking
• Focus attention on the DESIRABLE result as opposed to attention on what you are trying to avoid
• Be bold
• Be persistent especially when the obstacles are big
• Move further out on the limb than you feel comfortable with but not so far as to be careless
• Surround yourself with people who will encourage you not restrain you with fear


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