I’m packing up to head to Austin for a few days to participate in the Keller Williams Agent Labs with our team and it got me thinking about the last time I was in the Lone Star State a couple of weeks ago. Gary Keller reminded us that the most of us in business are playing for check, instead of going for checkmate.
Okay, I’m not going to pretend I’m any kind of chess connoisseur, but I do know enough about the game to draw some parallels to business. Check is good, it clears out some of the competition and it gets you closer to your goal. Checkmate is better. It means you’ve gone deep (not wide), you’ve dominated the market share in whatever industry you are in, and there is no way for the competition to escape. The goal is always checkmate. Here’s how you get there:
- MASTER YOUR LEADERSHIP – As a business owner, leadership is your craft, it’s your competitive edge. You’ve got to practice and master your leadership skills to win the game. You must become a leader who can inspire loyalty and action. Someone who can quickly analyze the entire game board, sees 12 moves ahead, and takes decision action and calculated risks. The only way to get yourself and your team to checkmate is to start with you.
- PLAY THE LONG GAME – The longest tournament chess game ever played was in 1980 and lasted over 24 hours. 24 hours for a game of chess! While we’re talking hours here for chess, when it comes to your business it’s all relative. Hours become weeks become years. When you plan to dominate your industry, there is no Fool’s Mate here. It’s a long-term play and one you must prepare for. You’ll have to master the boredom of daily activities. You’ll have to grind year after year, fail, grind, fail again, grind some more, and then finally begin to see the fruits of your labor. But when you fall in love with the game, you’ll be able to withstand the loses. It’s not about winning every battle but winning the war.
- REMOVE DISTRACTIONS – Do you know what you are after? In chess, the King is the ultimate goal, the North Star. What is your target? Are you removing roadblocks for yourself and your team in order to get there? The biggest roadblock is some sort of distraction disguised as a friendly co-worker or promising new CRM sales pitch. But you don’t have time for that! Delete or delegate all distractions. Get clear on your goals and then stay laser focused. You’ll need to call upon your leadership skills and your emotional fitness in order to stay focused long-term, but that’s how you achieve checkmate in business.
- PLAY OFFENSE – When you’re going for checkmate in business, you’ve got to go all in. When you think that you are doing all you can do, you’ve got to put in 10%-15% more time, energy, money, or resources. There is always more to give and there is always another move. Don’t fall short of the finish line. Go hard. Push ahead. Do not back down. Never give up.
- STAY HUNGRY – When your back against the wall, that’s when you have to go on the offensive. You have to tap into your primal instincts of survival, dig deep, and stay the course. Use your hunger for success to your advantage. Do not rest on your laurels or become complacent (even with success!). There is always more you can do to build a company and to build your legacy.
Too often, we play the game, make a few good moves, achieve some success and then get distracted and before we know it, we’ve moved from chess, to Jenga, to Monopoly, without mastering or winning any of them. So, take your time. Understand your vision. Line up your pieces. Know what each piece is capable of. Develop a strategy (and be willing to adjust on the fly). Stay committed. Stay hungry. And go for checkmate.