Can You Win by Losing?

Many of us, unless you’re a parent tanking to let your kid beat you, like to win.

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in their (excellent) new book Top Dog will tell you that it this drive to win is part genetic, part upbringing, and part cultural – and that you can even successfully change how you approach competition.

Some of us desperately care about winning. Others? No so much.

But are there times when the smartest thing is to lose the corporate / organizational fight? To have the other guy or gal’s opinion carry the day?


Sometimes is it better to give someone’s bad idea a try  - potentially to fail on its face  -  rather than be the person who battled to prevent what you feel is a flop from happening?


While I’d never recommend that you sit on your hands if people will get hurt, or the organization will suffer real harm (e.g. not taking the hard line against Mitt Romney’s use of the “47 percent” line in speech prep comes to mind), letting someone step into a cowpie of their own making is sometimes the only – and best way – of making a point.

So letting that person who is hell-bent on taking the movie John Carter to market, launching the new University of California logo, or purchase only to sell it back two years later to its founders for pennies on the dollar get their way?

Let them have it.

Someone needs to be around to pick up the pieces, as long as they’re not cowpies. Might as well be you.

Guest author J. Mike Smith is a executive, career, and leadership team coach, helping individuals, start-ups, teams and groups perform significantly better.

Winners and Losers image courtesy of Shutterstock

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