People’s language is very revealing. For example, here are some code words that are linguistic X-ray glasses into what people really mean:
THEY SAY: “I’m really busy…”
THEY MEAN: “I don’t want to do that, but it’s politically incorrect to say that, so I’m going to use time as a convenient excuse”
THEY SAY: “Ramit, I am really disappointed in your blog because of…”
THEY MEAN: “I am a nutcase, which you can tell by my use of the word ‘disappointed’ when it comes to FREE MATERIAL”
THEY SAY: “I’m definitely going to try that”
THEY MEAN: “I’m not going to do that”
I’ve written more about code words here.
They are an amazing way to read between the lines and hear what people REALLY mean.
For example, take that last one — “I’m going to try that.”
That attitude is completely foreign to me.
When top performers set out to do something, they don’t say “I’m going to hope for the best” or “let’s see how it goes.”
HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY.
My attitude for deciding what to do goes like this:
- Say no to most things. Be unapologetically open and transparent: “That sounds like a cool idea, but unfortunately I’m not going to do that right now. It just doesn’t fit into my plans.” Do not use time or other convenient excuses.
- If you decide to pursue something, go ALL IN. If you play, play to win. Don’t try. Don’t hope. You’ve already decided to do it…you might as well do it right.
And that brings me to one of my favorite parts about winning — doing it unconventionally.
Some of my favorite examples of winning unconventionally:
- Rejecting tradition: Billy Bean, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team, couldn’t afford to pay high salaries for top players. So he threw away the “traditional” methods of evaluating talent in favor of more advanced statistics nobody else used (or thought would work). With these methods he was able to stack his team with talented but overlooked players and consistently outperform teams that had 2-3X his budget. Read about it in one of the most fascinating books of all-time, Moneyball.
- Using a softer touch: Businesses and government officials who want to stop teenagers from loitering have learned yelling and making threats isn’t always the best option. What do they do instead? Play classical music over a loudspeaker, which is effective in getting teenagers to leave. (They used to do this at the 7-11 near my house.)
- Create a role for yourself: Before Sylvester Stallone was famous, he had trouble landing serious acting jobs. So what did he do? Wrote a movie that he could star in. When a studio offered to buy the script, under the contingency that Stallone wouldn’t play the lead, he turned them down — despite having no money or any other options. Eventually the studio caved and the movie was a massive success, making Stallone a huge star. Today, we know the film as Rocky.
These unconventional wins can be found everywhere. Interestingly, to anyone watching, it appears to be just a fluke.
But the real story is that these winners didn’t just get lucky. They out-strategized their opponents by finding loopholes, exposing weaknesses, and keeping them off guard. They won the game before they even set foot on the playing field.
Tomorrow, I’m going to introduce someone who has mastered the art of the “unconventional win.” It’s an awesome story.
But first, I want to hear about a time you or someone you knew found a way to WIN at something in an unconventional way. Not just out-working people, but taking an unusual route to victory.
Leave a comment below with your best “unconventional win” story.
We’ll dig deeper into the winning mindset tomorrow.