Play to win. Don’t play not to lose.
A few things happened in June which prompted this blog.
The first was I got to spend 5 days with Tony Robbins at his annual Advanced Business Mastery course. Tony is a formidable character, known globally as the THE high performance coach. He’s a leader of 18 companies with a personal fortune nearing 1 billion, and he’s 6ft 7”!
I first encountered Tony as a lot of people do – through an infomercial way back in 1993. I had some personal challenges and purchased his personal power series; a 30-day cassette tape series (look it up kids!). You may have heard it before, but it honestly changed my thinking, as well as a few ongoing decisions, which did change my life. A year later, I went on to complete his 3-day workshop Unleash the Power with the infamous fire walk. Again, a real insight into why we do what we do.
The other significant event was that the world lost one of its most inspirational sporting figures in history – the legendary Muhammad Ali. Ali is considered by boxing commentators and historians as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
So, are these two giants connected in anyway? The answer was presented to me by Tony, 20 years on from when I originally heard it.
It was during a session about getting business and life breakthroughs; it was so simple it hurt. Tony said:
“If you want to change your life, you have to change your strategy, you have to change your story, and you have to change your state.”
Tony expanded on these three simple statements for 5 days (into nights, into days), which I have summarised below for you:
Strategy – those shortcuts that help people get the right stuff done to succeed. I will use the scenario of a person looking to lose weight as our example. Anybody could find millions of ways to lose weight. There are products, clubs, articles, books, programmes, drinks, potions, powders, exercise regimes; google lists 48,400,000 on the search ‘how to lose weight’. So why are there people out there struggling to lose weight? Yes, I know there can be medical reasons, but let’s assume in our example this is not the case. It is apparently due to the Story we keep repeating to ourselves….
Story – these are the stories we tell ourselves about why we can, or cannot, do or achieve something in our lives. This became more and more apparent through real life examples over the week. Bearing in mind that Tony et al were on stage for around 14 hours most days, there were LOTS of examples. On SO many occasion the story or mind-set that the delegates were repeating to themselves were damaging their ability to move forward.
There was a fantastic example of a Spanish restaurant owner who was part of a ‘hot seat’ session. He was asked what he was going to do on his return to Spain regarding a new offer he had created. His answer to us uninitiated members of the audience was received well: “I have to change the culture of my restaurant, I have to have chats with a few of my team.” A very positive, looking forward attitude the audience nodded in support.
But not to Tony. He instantly spotted that there was another story to this Señor; and he was right. After a few minutes of gentle cross examination, it became apparent that our Spanish maestro didn’t believe that he could actually do it. And the clue was all in his choice of language by using the word ‘HAVE’. We were told in no uncertain terms that ‘poor’ people HAVE to, and ‘rich’ people GET to. With a slight language change from HAVE to GET we all witnessed what I would call a business miracle. Suddenly the whole physiology of Jean-Paul changed and the transformation was incredible: his speech was stronger, his head was higher, his tone was more emphatic – all by changing HAVE to; to GET to. Try it yourself instead of saying HAVE to; say I GET to. It’s a very different feeling.
So this leads us to the final aspect of the triad and that is State. A great strategy with an empowering story will all fail with the wrong state.
State – this is the mental and emotional position you are in at that moment. For Tony, this is his calling card and hallmark, for god’s sake the man is 56 and he bounces on the stage to banging music like a teenager, receiving ear-deafening hand claps from an audience who wouldn’t look out of place at a Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert leaping up and down and screaming at the top of their voices (yes, even the Brits!).
There is a ton of science surrounding our state; internal stuff like dopamine, cortisol and serotonin and how it affects us. But put in simple terms, if you feel good, and are in a positive frame of mind, you are more likely to try new things that could lead to creating a breakthrough.
As the big man says:
“Change your strategy, change your result; change your story, change your life, change your state.” YOU change it all!
Now, back to our other hero – Muhammad Ali – and how he applied this simple principle in dominating his field for 17 years. What was his state, story and strategy?
Well we know his state: he was THE master of self-talk and proclaimed himself: ‘the greatest’. He had a swagger and language that just said: “I will WIN”. After the Liston fight in ‘64 he shouted: “Eat your words! I am the greatest! I shook up the world. I’m the prettiest thing that ever lived.”
He definitely had the STATE, so how was his STORY and STRATEGY? At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali, thrived in — and craved—the spotlight, where he was often provocative and outlandish. Ali typically portrayed himself as the “people’s champion”.
He regularly taunted and baited his opponents before the fight and often during the bout itself. He said Frazier was “too dumb to be champion”, that he would whip Liston “like his Daddy did”, that Terrell was an “Uncle Tom” and that Patterson was a “rabbit.” In speaking of how Ali stoked Liston’s anger and overconfidence before their first fight, one writer commented that: “the most brilliant fight strategy in boxing history was devised by a teenager who had graduated 376 in a class of 391.”
During the early part of his career, he built a reputation for predicting rounds in which he would finish opponents, often vowing to crawl across the ring or to leave the country if he lost the bout.
Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in the golden age of boxing. But even greater, Ali was voted alongside Babe Ruth as the most recognised athlete out of over 800 dead of living athletes, by over 97% Americans over 12 years old. He had his strategy, story and state totally aligned.
So, three simple lessons we can all learn from two great giants.
At Advocate, we’ve recently created our SCALE Manifesto which reflects the way we think, act and behave. Not only does it give us internal clarity, but also demonstrates what people can expect from us. One of our declarations that seems a fitting ending to this month’s article is: