Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose

“Playing to win” is different than “playing not to lose.” The actions you would take to win are different than the actions you would take to “not lose.”

Playing to Win

If you are playing to win, you do whatever is necessary to move things forward. You aggressively try to put points on the board. You’re not reckless, but you’re certainly not passive.

When you play to win, you make the call that you fear. You have the difficult conversation. You deal with the tricky issues that may put your outcomes at risk if things go south on you.

Playing Not to Lose

If you are playing to “not lose,” you’re cautious. Probably overly-cautious. You want to avoid mistakes, so you hold back. Instead of doing what you know you need to do, you wait to react. Instead of using all of your power to tilt things in your direction, you wait.

You don’t make the call to your dream client because they said they needed time to think things over. You avoid talking about your price because you worry that your prospect will say it’s too high. You don’t act because you are fearful that anything you do will put your deal at risk.

Different Intentions, Different Outcomes

Trying not to lose is not the same thing as trying to win. Trying not to lose is reactionary. It’s prevention. Most of the time it prevents you from winning. Worst of all, it starts with the belief that you should focus on “not losing,” which gives the idea of losing too much power.

“Playing to win” begins with the belief that you can and will win. It’s empowering. The belief that you can win and the desire to do so allows you to take initiative, to be resourceful, and to take the necessary actions that will better your chances of winning—even if taking those actions comes with a particular risk.

Are you “playing to win?” Or are you playing to “not lose?” What would you differently if you changed your intentions?

Filed under: Competition

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