From Seoul With Love
Yes I know the Football (soccer) World Cup is history – old news until 2014. But here are some interesting lessons from 'the beautiful game' I thought you'd really enjoy.
Last month my wife Deborah and I visited our son Abe who is working in South Korea. We are so very proud of him. He's using his immense talents: singing; dancing; acting; keyboard and saxophone to make a real difference in the world as a children's entertainer (think Korean Wiggles).
The first night of our visit, South Korea played Uruguay in the F.I.F.A. World Cup. It is an understatement to say that Koreans love their football. Think AFL Grand Final Day in Melbourne, multiply by 100, inject with steroids then multiply by 100 again and you have a feel for the passion and engagement South Korean’s have for their football legends. The fans call themselves 'The Red Devils'. They are the epitome of Engagement.
By the way. How engaged are your people on the 'world stage'? We're looking for people to take part in BlessingWhite's Global Employee Engagement Survey 2010. To voice your opinon on what gets you engaged and enthused at work and help us come up with practical leadership strategies to curb disengagement GO HERE
This was the first time South Korea have made it into the round of 16. We found ourselves in a bar filled with vibrant young South Koreans adorned in their red T-shirts, scarves and head gear. The hype, the hysteria, the colour, the tension and the noise was amazing.
I was totally enthralled by the South Korean's football skills. They had it all over Uruguay. The accuracy of their passing, stopping balls dead in mid-air and dribbling with great finesse. But guess what (and you football tragics will already know this) they lost.
The Korean side had something like 67% of the ball and spent most of their time in the oppositions half. They had the skills, the opportunities, the possibilities but didn't capitalise on them. They got a solitary goal but despite their dominance they couldn't build on this momentum.
Momentum: Not Enough
Why didn't they score? Well, they simply didn’t have many decent attempts at goal. And when they did have a go they sprayed their shots over the crossbar or sent the ball into the arms of the goal keeper without any real power. When Uruguay got up 2:1 it was almost like they lost interest. The passion seemed to fade immediately.
On the other hand, with very little possession, the opposition made solid attempts at goal just about every time they had a chance. All this despite being made to look a bit amateurish in other aspects of the game. But no matter what the stats say, Uruguay won the game 2:1 and progressed to the next round.
So what are the business (and life) lessons from this 'Seoulful Experience'? (sorry YB and my friends in Korea)
1. (Insert you name)'s Got Talent!
Yes, you've got heaps of it. Major strengths, skills and passions. But you've still got to focus on outcomes. You might have the finest leadership skills in the world but if you're not using these talents to achieve some results, leave a legacy or make the world a better place then what's the point. In fact, I think it is an absolute tragedy to have talents and not apply them to achieve results. Don't 'sin against your talent'.
2. Focus on Outcomes
You can go through all the motions. Look good, present well, have great relationship skills, put in the hours. Big deal! Are you achieving the results you want in your life and your business? What's your bottom line? How's your personal and business growth?
It always amazes me how people are literally stunned when their business has to “let them go” because they are not achieving the output requirements of their job. "But I work so hard, I'm so dedicated." Yep, well done, brilliant but "Don't tell me about the labor pains. Show me the baby" (John Cleese).
A business will not survive (and more jobs will be lost) if you don't achieve the key output requirements of your job, no matter how nice a person or how dedicated you are.
So find out what these (key outputs) are. Ask your boss. Get really clear on your own and your teams output expectations. It's one of the most humane things you can do in business.
3. Focus on the Key Inputs to Achieve Your Key Results
In Football it's the number of attempts at goal but let's look at a life experience:
Say you want a 'life partner'. You can't find one by simply looking around. You have to ask someone out, and unless you are really, really lucky you'll probably have to ask several people out and go on a few dates before you find the right one.
"One day my prince will come". That's just wishful thinking and so disempowering. Don't passively wait for your'prince' to come to you, go to the ball princess; that's where the princes are.
When John Dillinger (famous American bank robber) was asked "Why do you rob banks?" he replied "Because that's where the money is."
So don't let go of your outcomes. Take more shots at goal. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.
If that analogy is not working for you alpha-males out there, try this one:
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take (Wayne Gretzky, Canadian Ice Hockey legend)
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4. Improve the Quality of the Shots You Take
You can certainly take more shots at goal but it is also essential (unless you have an infinite amount of time on your hands and who does these days) to make those shots the best they can be.
The South Koreans just missed too many of their attempts at goal.
What's the point of going to a golf range and hitting ball after ball if they are all bad shots? You’re just practicing bad shots and getting good at them. Stop it!
So if you are a sales person trying to bring on new customers by making phone calls you need to make sure those calls are the best they can be. Ask better questions, really focus on the prospective customer’s needs and do your homework beforehand. It's not just about the number of calls you make.
5. It's Not Over Till It's Over
Is there's something in life or in business that you really, really want to achieve but haven’t quite been able to? Well, if you are still alive and kicking then there is still a chance. Sounds blindingly obvious but too many people throw in the towel.
As a personal example, I want The Human Enterprise to be the most inspiring Leadership Development business in the Asia Pacific but after 23 years I haven't quite achieved that. However, I'm still passionate about creating great enterprises that are truly human and I'll be buggered if Im going to give up now.
I wonder if the Korean team would have achieved a different result if they'd played the last 10 minutes with the same gusto and zeal they showed at beginning of their quest (even though they were only 2:1 down)
Bringing it All Together
So if you focus on what it means to win in your personal and professional life (soccer goals), isolate the key activities or inputs that will help you achieve your goals (heads and kicks), put 100% in to making those activities be the best they can be (speed, accuracy, 'bending it like Bekham') I’m sure the score will be in your favour.
But most importantly. Youll never be successful with your head hanging low. Sticking at anything takes guts and passion. It's not over till it's over. If it is really important to you, don’t give up. It's amazing what you can achieve in life if you really put your heart and Seoul* into it.
*This is what my son Abe (pictured to the left performing in Korea) would call a 'Dad Joke'. I however, in all my humility think it is a brilliant way to link this all together, back to that night when we became Australian 'Red Devils' in a South Korean bar.