How to win at King of the Hill- the adult versionby Greg Smith |
Most boys—and more than a few girls—enjoyed a rowdy game of “King of the Hill” back in the 80’s; before video games and changing cultural attitudes about “aggressive” games made this type of play rare. The game was aggressive, though not mean spirited. And it was simple, too: throw or roll your friends down a grassy hill until you stand alone on top. You become the King of the hill.
As attractive as the thought may be, we obviously can’t physically manhandle our competitors in business. Adulting comes with laws and consequences. We do, however, still need strategies to stay on top. Being the King or Queen of your hill isn’t a game any longer, it’s a business necessity. On top is where your company finds greater earnings and the means for future growth.
Here’s how the adult version is played.
No replacement for hard work
Personal story coach Bo Eason knows about hard work. Dedication and persistence got him into the NFL, where he enjoyed playing four seasons for the Oilers (now the Titans). That same work ethic also helped him achieve great success in his second career; as a writer, director and actor of a play that successfully reached Broadway. Bo also has a third career—as a public speaker and storytelling coach with a quickly growing following. Business is good.
The idea of working hard for a reward is not unique…nor is it sufficient on its own. We all know that work must be focused and strategic, as well as consistent, if it is to pay off. Those are often the details that matter. For Bo, hard work is an example of leadership in action. People follow those who excel. If you get enough like-minded and motivated people working hard toward a common goal, there is no limit to what they can achieve.
To explain his thinking, Bo said something that resonated with me: “No one called off sick at NASA the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.”
Armstrong is a great example of the “work hard and others will follow” idea. He and the other Apollo 11 astronauts had to endure an unbelievable training regime for their 8 days in space and first-ever moon walk. Not only were they subjected to never-before-seen test in the NASA lab to simulate weightlessness and the lunar surface, they also had to train in water, jungle and desert climates; just in case their returning space craft landed in the wrong spot. The hours were long and the work was rigorous. It not only inspired all of NASA to step up during the mission, it inspired new interest in space… interest still evident today in science fiction books and movies.
Then there’s also the fact that Armstrong’s success cemented America’s place on top in the space race. We were the kings of space.
Seek out experts
Famed vocal coach Roger Love also appreciates the benefits of hard work. He surrounds himself with internationally-known musicians, actors and CEOs and, as a result, he is constantly steeped in a pool of successful people who personify the work ethic.
Roger’s expansion of the “work hard, get far” motto—and his secret for staying on top of the hill—is exemplified in his work. He is not necessarily a household name, yet the rich and famous spend a lot of time and money working with him. The list is long. For singers, he counts Gwen Stafani, John Mayer and Selena Gomez as clients. In the actor category, Roger has worked with Bradley Cooper, Will Farrell, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Bridges and many, many more. Seriously talented people seek him out. They want—in fact, need, his expertise to get to the next level.
Roger found two truths in working with A-listers. First, they all work hard naturally. They don’t need to be driven, they are driven. Second, it takes more effort and time to make improvements the more successful you become. Think about dieting. Most people who have extra weight find they can take the first pounds off fairly quickly. However, the more fit they become, the slower the weight loss… and that last five pounds can be tougher to lose than all the pounds leading up to it.
Roger’s clients understand an outside perspective from an expert helps to optimize the changes they want to make to remain on top. He helps them drop the last five pounds, if you will. Drive, appreciation for expert advice and a little humility (after all, big-headed stars are too in love with their current success to find new opportunity) is, in Roger’s experience, a dynamic combination.
Act like you’ve been there
I recently got an opportunity to meet Reid Priddy, an indoor volleyball player who is a four-time Olympian and gold medal holder.
When it comes to the idea of staying on top, Reid echoes everyone else on the subject of hard work… it’s a given.
Where Reid added extra value to the idea was in his talk about how he treats winning and losing. As far as he’s concerned, he treats them the same.
That’s not to mean he is indifferent to losing. No competitive athlete at his level is. Nor does he feel blasé about winning; he loves it.
Reid advocated an idea that you don’t treat either event – winning or losing—as an excuse to break from the work that gets you to the top of the hill. You need to act as if you’ve been on the winner’s riser before, otherwise you run the risk of letting the moment get away from you and sabotage future success. His advice is to live and work in the moment. Do the work and allow the rewards to follow on merit. Don’t lose your focus. In sharing this insight, Reid told me about competing in world class events and being down on points, only to grind-it-out and end up winning. Coming from behind takes discipline, focus and emotional control… all of which come from experience.
Experience is a great teacher, and Reid suggests we undergo after action reviews—otherwise known as AARs – after events in our life. “What did I do right in this instance? And how can I build on that?” “What did I do wrong? And how can I improve upon that?” Answering these questions honestly and working with that knowledge is what keeps winners winning.
Staying on top
Here’s what I took away from my interactions with proven winners. If you want to stay on top (which is were every business wants to live), you are best served by:
- Working hard consistently
- Setting the example of dedication for your team
- Finding and listening to experts
- Stay in the moment and act as if you’ve been there before when you do win
That’s how you stay King of the Hill.