I’ll be the first to admit it, I love playing games. The best games involve strategy, quick and forward thinking, a clear end goal and a lot of investment on the part of the players. My favorite game of all time is one that combines all of these aspects plus some. The name of the game, in this case, is business.
Don’t be thrown, I’m not downplaying the importance of business in the slightest. I’m not claiming that owning or running a business is “only a game,” or that it’s trivial and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I’m claiming quite the opposite.
It may seem like an activity as insignificant as breaking out a chess board or game of Risk is inconsequential in comparison to a business meeting or negotiation to many. But when it’s boiled down, the approaches are remarkably similar.
Play with the End in Mind
I’m choosing to start with this one because of its relevance–playing with the end in mind from the beginning gives you an obvious advantage. If you’re headed into a negotiation or any type of business venture, your first step should be planning ahead. You know what you want out of the meeting–so solidify it. Heading into a game of chess, you know that your primary goal–your only goal,in fact–is to place your opponent into checkmate. Running a business or negotiating with others should be no different. Enter the situation with a goal in mind, and make adjustments from there.
Here is where the adjustments come into play. Strategizing can (and should) be done far as in advance as possible, of course. But, like in any game imaginable, not everything is always going to go just according to plan. Perhaps you anticipated the rolling of the dice going your way a little more often than it did, or a particular card being flipped or played at a different time, and you suddenly find yourself in a tough situation. This twist can be similarly jarring and devastating in business, but can be avoided by properly reacting to the moves that others make.
Proper strategy isn’t just reactive, it’s proactive. It isn’t enough to react to the moves that are being made in front of your face, you have to take action and plan one step ahead of your opponent, anticipating their moves and executing on your strategy before they can execute on theirs.
Enjoy What You Do
Often, I hear others talk about dreading an upcoming meeting or negotiation. They approach any corporate process as if they’re entering a dentist’s office to have their teeth pulled. This is the epitome of why approaching business as a game is important. You have to enjoy what you’re doing in order to get the most out of work. Why approach a business meeting with hesitance, nervousness or when you can approach with confidence and excitement. If you begin to treat negotiations as if they’re a game, you’ll find yourself enjoying them more and coming out on top more frequently.
Realize You Won’t Always Win
Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players to ever live and winner of all 8 of the US Chess championships he participated in, lost a fair share of games in his life. It’s a simple fact that you simply can’t win every game you play in. The New England Patriots helped back up this claim in 2007 when they went undefeated until they suffered a heartbreaking loss when it mattered the most.
The same rule applies to business. You won’t get every job you applied for, you won’t win every contract negotiation and you won’t walk away from every single business opportunity considering yourself a winner. What you can do, however, is walk away content that you strategized, gave it your all, and will approach the next one smarter, better and more well-equipped.