The table tennis club has four tables. Beginners start at Table Four, down on the right. If you win, you move left. At Table One, the winner stays on.
Anyone can find a game at the club, but the standard at Table One is high –those players are junior championship contenders: young, fit, serious about their equipment, dressed in immaculate whites. If you fancy your chances against them, you’re welcome to join the queue and have a go. Most likely you’ll be dispatched to the lower tables in a blur, admitting – if you’re honest – that you hardly even saw the ball.
So one afternoon this old guy (he must be at least forty!) wanders in. He’s wearing long trousers, a shirt and tie – and braces! He doesn’t even have tennis shoes – just worn brogues. He raises eyebrows when he joins the queue for the top table. The old guy’s turn comes, and the raised eyebrows are replaced with smirks when he asks to borrow a bat.
The Junior National Champion has been on since lunch and has dispatched all comers. The old guy wipes the floor with the young champion, and stays on the table for an hour or so as others try their luck.
Then he checks his watch, thanks the fellow who’d lent him the bat and ambles towards to door.
“What just happened?“ asks one of the young blades.
Their coach, who slipped in unnoticed half an hour ago, has been watching with amusement. “Oh Mr. Miller used to play for England. I guess it’s in the hands, not the bat.”
Andy’s Advice: It’s so easy to follow the crowd when defining ‘what good looks like’. But how many of the standard trappings really affect results, and how many are just the way everyone does it? How much time do people spend copying what other people claim is ‘best practice’ with effects that are marginal, at best? Look for the differences that really make a difference in your business or career, and then make those your focus.
Image credit: sports.yahoo.com
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Andy Bass is the founder and principal of BassClusker Consulting, and helps leaders to bring their strategic goals to fruition more quickly and completely, wherever possible using resources they already have. He has worked across a wide range of industries and sectors including professional services, technology, media, health, financial services, packaging, automotive and education.