Sticking to Your Guns

Jan 15, 2010

As you may know, I’ve been playing a lot of poker lately, and blogging my journey at Counting the Odds.

I love poker because, to me, it’s a very nice interesection of math and human behavior, with a bit of luck thrown in. There’s one thing about my experience so far that’s made me think, though.

I’ve been on a relatively good run over the last month, but there have been up and downs. There are certain streaks when I keep losing money, and it makes me wonder if I’m really just not that good. But I think poker has taught me to trust myself, and keep at what I’m doing. Of course, that’s not the full story. If things continually go wrong, you need to reflect and see where you’re at, and adjust accordingly. The challenge is to find the right balance.

And I think it’s the same in life. Things won’t always go your way, sometimes you don’t get the results you want. The challenge is to determine whether it’s just a short term lull which will improve if you keep sticking to your guns, or whether it’s really a flaw in your strategy which you need to adjust.

I know Einstein said that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, but sometimes, I think that does happen. Especially if you get caught up in the short term results.

How do you decide when you should stick to your guns; at what point do you decide that you have to change your strategy?

In Memory of Brian Clough

Sep 20, 2008
Brian Clough Statue in Albert Park, Middlesbrough.
Image via Wikipedia

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Brian Clough‘s passing.

Mr Clough, as he liked to be called, was one of the best managers that England has seen. He brough two different teams up from the Second Division to win the First Division. He won the European Cup twice with Nottingham Forest.

He had very unique methods, and methods that not everyone agreed with. But his success is undeniable, and we can all learn something from him. Here are 3.

For one, he had unshakeable confidence in himself. He’s said things such as “I certainly wouldn’t say I’m the best manager in the business, but I’m in the top one.” He knew he was a good manager, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. He wasn’t just talk, he backed up his talk with his successes, but he wasn’t afraid to speak for himself.

Secondly, he had a firm belief in how the game should be played. When asked what he would do if a player disagreed with his methods, he said, “I’d ask him how he thinks it should be done, have a chat about it for twenty minutes and then decide I was right”. He also famously said that “If God had intended for us to play football in the clouds he wouldn’t have put grass on the ground.” He had very firm beliefs in how things should be done, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. He wouldn’t have been as good a manger without.

Thirdly, he wasn’t afraid to shake things up. When he first took over Derby County, he released 11 players, and kept only 4. He never hesitated to change how things were. And it was something he wasn’t afraid to admit, saying that if he had gotten the chance to manage the England national team, he would have changed it “lock, stock and barrel”.

Confidence in himself, confidence in his belief, and a propensity for change. 3 ingredients that would push anyone towards success, don’t you think?

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Do You Believe in Your Own Product?

Jul 2, 2008

I remember when I bought my hard guitar case. It was a relatively new/unique design, that’s less common. Even now, I rarely see people use it. But it’s lighter than normal hard cases, with just as much protection.

When I first bought the case, the store owner demonstrated the case to me. How? He used one of his own store guitars, put it in the case and tossed it on the floor. Literally. Practically like how the airline people tend to toss luggages. And the guitar was perfectly fine.

That one demonstration went really far in my decision to buy that case. The fact that the store owner was willing to risk one of his own guitars to demonstrate the case (which was cheaper than the guitar, definitely) showed how much he believed in it. And it made me believe too.

Would you be willing to take that kind of risk for your product? How much do you believe in your product? How much would you risk for it? (For those thinking about your personal brands, substitute “product” with “beliefs”.)

Because if you don’t believe in it enough to take the risk, and believe in your product, your customers are much less likely to either.