Leading Ideas: Getting in the Game

"It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that know neither victory nor defeat." — Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th U.S. President

I've used this idea of "getting in the game" to help one of my clients build a process for fast-track development of new hires. She used to take three months to ramp-up new hires - now we've turned that into one. "I truly thought it would be a disaster," she admitted. "I thought too many things would go wrong. However, I've recently recognized that they learn better if I get them on the court sooner. By letting out 'the leash' earlier (while simultaneously providing strong support), we've created an environment where people want to step up, learn, and take responsibility sooner."

Consider This:

The old adage is true - you've got to be in it to win it. Whatever game you want to play, don't spend too much time on the sidelines. Even if you don't know what you're doing - get in there. Once you've taken a few licks, you'll learn what to do.

Try This (with yourself or your team):

1. Be aware of any place where you seem to be over-planning before taking action.
2. With regards to that situation, if you knew you couldn't fail, what's the first action you'd take? why?
3. What's the second action you'd take? why?
4. Realize there's a good chance you already know what you need to do to get started.
5. Stalling might mean you're waiting for a certainty that will never come.

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  • Brian Allen

    This is one of the best quotes in history. It can be summed up so simply yet be told with enough conviction to motivate an army.

  • Steve Borsch

    Came to your article (I news aggregate Fast Company within my news section) because of the Teddy Roosevelt quote. Being "in the game" is so critical and I believe it's the *only* way to build an intuitive understanding.

    Blogged about it here on my one year anniversary about why a guy like me (a "suit" that is a closet technoweenie) got in the blogging and podcasting game: http://borsch.typepad.com/ctd/...

  • Alex Osterwalder

    What a beautiful quote. That is exactly why I co-created a global nonprofit organization responding to HIV/AIDS through KM-methods (http://www.aidscompetence.org) last year. I thought it was not sufficient to only earn money as a strategy conslultant (http://www.businessmodeldesign...) and then donate... I wanted to feel the dust and sweat and blood of those trying to tackle HIV/AIDS in the world..

  • John Wall

    Great Quote. In reference to new hires, induction and ongoing management, I believe that 'top draw' people today no longer want to be managed. Top quality people today want to be Lead. They want to know what they are responsible for and they want to get on with it. They know that they are up to the challenge and will not be using lame excuses like "I was not properly shown what to do". Similarly "management" needs to trust that the people they choose to join their team are trustworthy, and will take responsibility. management need to get out of the way, give heaps of credit and let people shine.
    Finally people who do not shine is normally due to lack of enthusiasm. And as the old saying goes "Those that are not fired with enthusiasm should be, fired, with enthusiasm".

  • Brendon Sinclair

    It's a great quote.

    The best business advice I ever got was late one night (or early morning) from the owner of a bar. It was this: "To be successful in business, really successful, you have to be in the game."

    My whole philosphy is jump in, do it, refine it, make it better. It works well. (I've usually tested an ideas or business before most people have gotten past their Due Diligence - not saying doing due diligence is a bad thing!)

    His other advice was "Have another drink, Brendon."

    I liked both pieces of advice equally well.



  • Chris Brogan...

    Funny, I took that quote in an entirely different direction. I thought about all the times I have been critical of an effort underway, sniping and griping from the sidelines. This quote summed up a great alternative, wherein one jumps in and participates, and puts themselves on the same team instead of staying in the peanut gallery.

    In either case, it's only when you've got skin in the game that things feel "real."

    Chris of [chrisbrogan.com]