Strategy

12th April 2018

Dangerous Sports

I love rugby. I used to enjoy playing it when I was younger and now I love watching it at almost any level. Thinking about the game the other day I realised just how dangerous it is; how many players are injured at any point and how often good players seem to disappear never to return to the game.

As I was thinking about this I was also reminded that we are about a month away from the Isle of Man TT. You see I also love racing and especially motor bike racing, of which I believe Road Racing such as the Isle of Man TT, the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix are the pinnacle. You can hardly imagine a more dangerous sport. Mistakes meet very harsh, sometimes final punishment.

Undoubtedly the danger adds a frisson to the event for participants and spectators alike and there is always a debate about the danger and whether sports that are so dangerous should be allowed.

It also strikes me that running or leading a business is also an extremely dangerous sport. The business leader chooses uncertainty over certainty, they choose risk over safety, they choose having to push hard every day over the ‘ability to coast along’ option. If the business leader is also the business owner you can double or treble the stakes. It is a high risk, high stakes game fraught with danger on all sides, and yet thousands of people thankfully and bravely choose this route.

Now although I am vehemently opposed to the nanny state I wouldn’t want to see anyone take away some of the safety measures we have seen introduced in recent years, like crash helmets, Armco barriers and first-rate marshalling for example. But what can the business owner do to mitigate the huge risks he faces? If you think about it for a moment, when you have successful, motivated ambitious and driven people jumping into a dog eat dog environment of intense competition with high stakes, huge pressure and a mass of red tape and legislation, what could possibly go wrong?

Kevin Lawrence makes the point in his book “Your Oxygen Mask First” that we are only ever one life event away from a major mental health problem. Stressed driven individuals in a stressed and demanding environment with constant pressure to perform have all of the makings of an accident waiting to happen. It is potentially a perfect storm.

There is a plaque on my wall which says “businesses that are out of control are ruthless. They will tear your life up”. One of the reasons I became a coach in the beginning was to help people navigate the storms of owning and running a business and help bring some degree of control to an otherwise ruthless environment.

Given the dangerous nature of the sport we are involved in there are some things you can do to reduce the risk and increase the safety. People generally get stuck when they run out of ideas; when they don’t know what to do next so invest in your own education. Its not what we know that matters. It’s what we don’t know that costs us and we can never know what we don’t know other than through an interaction with another person. So invest in a coach and invest in a mentor. Get the help you need. If you are going somewhere you have never been before talk to someone who has already been there.

Think about what causes you pain. Is it not making enough profit? Not having a cohesive team pulling with you towards a common goal? Is it not having enough time? Not growing fast enough or being stuck in the business so much that it is like a millstone around your neck? Look on these problems as opportunities. They are all signs that something isn’t working well for you. Now that you recognise it go out and find someone who can help you learn what you need to learn and do what you need to do to fix it and move on. Do you hate losing enough that you’re willing to change or do you hate change so much that you’re willing to lose?

It is not just a matter of economic survival that you get better. It is also about health and wellbeing. Specifically yours. Do something about it. You are playing a dangerous sport.