Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ryder Cup thoughts, a little late...

Why was the Ryder Cup such an incredible event? Was it the agony and the ecstasy? The agony of a less skilled European team falling way behind to a narcissistic American team… And then, the ecstasy as the Europeans took the Americans down one by one in head to head competition? 

I will tell you why I thought it was so riveting; everybody loves the underdog, the come from behind victory, the David vs. Goliath imagery. The unpredictability and drama of sport is why we watch. If the most talented teams won all the time, who would care? Those with the biggest pocket book would always be the winner.

Regardless of how sad we are when our teams lose, we still admire the magnitude of the feat by the underdog. There is some quiet comfort that if our teams do lose, somehow it is acceptable to be beaten by a team that is inferior in talent but somehow pulls everything together to do what had on paper seemed impossible.

Now, that I have gotten you thinking about the joy of come from behind victories, I want you to think about your workplace and what you can learn from the Ryder Cup event. Doesn't it feel great when someone beats the odds? Someone decides to take a different path, risk it all and makes it work with blood sweat and tears? Do you ever cheer for the underdog at the office? Do you ever help clear the path for someone experimenting with a different strategy?
The Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal knew that he was overmatched but took risks with his choices of people and the order in which he played them. Notwithstanding, his odds sure looked insurmountable when they sat down for dinner on the eve of the final round. Yet there was something in the air that night.

I can tell you from experience that Goliath does not always win in life and that includes at the office. When Goliath loses, it is so much more satisfying because the unexpected has occurred. What I have seen in my coaching practice often is the “Davids” talking themselves out of challenging the “Goliaths” by saying "Oh, that will never work” or “They will never do that." I always ask "How do you know?” The answer is - You don't know until you try!

Cheering for the underdogs is always more risky, prone to ridicule and definitely more lonely, but so much more fun when it works! In reality, the underdogs are usually the agents of change, those people that are different, not marching to the same beat, those that did not read the pre-game write-ups that said they were to be defeated. They are the ones that forge ahead without fear. We should be cheering these people forward, helping them clear the way for progress.
My wonderful American wife always asks me why I love the underdog in every aspect of life so much (FYI just a few tense moments during the Ryder Cup disintegration of her team). I answer because I spent a lifetime of people telling me "Oh, you can't do this and that”. In reality, it seems to me you can do anything you put your mind and energy to; otherwise, we would still be running around with clubs and loin cloths. Nothing wrong with that if you are a caveman but most of us have progressed!

So my challenge to you is be an agent of change in your office, support those taking the road less travelled, cheer for the underdog whether it’s popular or not. You never know that change may just make your life better, it’s sure worth a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, just like the Europeans did on the night before the last round of Ryder Cup.
Be bold and support your local underdog. 

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