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Work is Not a Game

Work is Not a Game

Sport and competition go together. Taking the competition away from sport would reduce it to a pointless, illogical activity. Competition and business go together too, and many links are made between sporting achievement and business success. But work and business are not games. Competition is no longer healthy in the workplace when it gets out of hand.

The essential difference between sporting competition and competition in the business world is choice. Players choose to compete in a sport at the level of competition they feel comfortable with. Not every tennis player wants to play at Wimbledon or the US Open. Players match the level of competition with their motivation, so many are content to play as “duffers” with their friends or in local tournaments. Being in control of the challenge allows competition to be fun. If you’re truly keen, you can try for the heights. If you’re less willing to give your all to the sport, you can settle somewhere lower down.

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Compare this with much of the business world today, where organizations establish highly competitive structures for salaries, promotions, and even keeping your job. The organization unilaterally sets the standards you must meet to win, often at some impossibly elevated level based on the aspirations and fantasies of the CEO, not the actual abilities of the staff. Competition is definitely not voluntary. Failure doesn’t see you dropped to a lower league more suited to your talent. It gets you branded a loser with a big dent in your job prospects. In this environment, competition is forced on you. Like some circus animal prodded to jump through a series of hoops for the amusement of the audience, you have no control over what you are challenged to do.

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When competition is forced on people, it’s no longer fun or motivating, especially if the level is set well above where they feel confident. Instead of the pleasure of feeling they have a good chance of winning, their main desire is to avoid being humiliated. Being overmatched does nothing to increase motivation or skill.

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Working life would be better if leaders thought about competition in more humane terms, and worked to create environments that bring out the fun element of competition, not the harsher, punitive side. Generating the right level of competition to stimulate each person without overmatching them and crushing their spirit is a skill that can turn any leader into a cherished mentor.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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