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How to Win When You Lose

I hate to lose. It’s interesting because I don’t think of myself as an obsessively competitive person. Yet, when someone can’t see the picture I so eloquently paint or can’t understand the value that seems so obvious, I get, for lack of a better word, pissed.

But, while I was stewing in anger recently, I realized it was misdirected and, as a result, less constructive than it could have been. I needed to take more responsibility. Let me explain.

At times, perhaps my eloquent painting or my obvious value isn’t so eloquent and obvious to other people. When you’re in the trenches with something, you are carrying with you tons of institutional knowledge. You imply meaning out of words.

This happened with a great client this week. During a messaging exercise, we were writing “at scale” to convey a point. We all knew what that meant because we knew the company. In a moment of self-reflection, however, we realized that someone new could interpret it in multiple ways. Leaving something up for interpretation is a killer.

This is why I am trying to no longer get mad at the other end of my pitch. I take every at bat as an opportunity to improve. Of course, there will always be times that someone understands 100% of what you’re saying and it just isn’t a fit. But more often than not it is because I am talking to them in my words, not theirs. The Golden Rule used to be: Treat others as you want to be treated. The Platinum Rule evolved to be: Treat others the way they want to be treated.

If I fail to reach you, that is my problem, not yours.

So, moving forward, I may still get mad — but at myself. And I will use it as fuel to sharpen my pitch, clarify my value proposition and deliver a story so compelling there will be really no excuse not to accept.

If I do that, then I will already be winning.

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