This is about winning … and deciding how important … ‘how you win’ is to you … versus ‘the win’ itself.
The quote. Nothing much was happening in the eighth round of the Roberto Duran – Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match on November 25th in 1980 when Roberto Duran turned away from Sugar Ray Leonard and waved a glove at the referee in a signal he wanted to stop.
Interestingly … Leonard, only aware that the current champ wasn’t defending himself, hit Duran … and Duran did not respond.
“No mas, no mas,” Roberto told the referee.
“No more box.”
And he walked to his corner,
As a boxer Roberto Duran was known as the most dedicated, intense warrior in the ring. His nickname was Hands of Stone <Manos de Piedra>. He was the lightweight champ and had lost only one decision in 72 bouts <or something close to that>.
It was said that he never thought he could ever lose.
And, yet, he walked away … and in the win/loss column he lost.
Here is the deal.
“No mas” didn’t mean ‘I quit.’ It just meant ‘fuck this.’
It was purely a comment made in disgust.
Duran wasn’t hurt … he was just disgusted.
Once Duran realized Leonard wouldn’t play ‘quien es mas macho’ he just walked away.
Winning … if he couldn’t fight the way he thought a fight should be fought … well … it just wasn’t a fight to him.
Was he right or wrong? In his head … right.
In may other people’s heads? Wrong decision … it made him a quitter in their eyes.
But this is all about winning the way you want to win.
His way of fighting? …
“Getting hit motivates me. It makes me punish the guy more. A fighter takes a punch, hits back with three punches.”- Roberto Duran
Duran was the champ. He probably was smart enough to figure out a way to win the way Sugar Ray was fighting the fight <which wasn’t fighting it was avoiding> but that wasn’t the win he wanted. He wanted to know who the best fighter was. He wanted to be hit and see if he could take it. He wanted to see if Sugar Ray could take his best hits. When Sugar Ray decided he wasn’t going to allow that to happen Duran just said … not only do I not want to play this game but I don’t want to win this way … “no mas.”
To us <because most of us are not world class boxers> we will all at some point have to make this same type of decision … in sports, in Life, in relationships, in business. We all have to decide how important how we win is to us.
Look. How you win, or play the game, is a very personal decision.
It really ends up being your choice with regard to your attitude <which ultimately influences your own behavior … even when that behavior is within a group or business organization>.
Oh. And when it isn’t your choice how to play <i.e., someone else is dictating how you play> … and you really do not want to play that way … well … there is trouble <in River City my friends>.
Please note I am going to make some generalizations soon to make some points and I fully understand there are degrees within each generalization.
Regardless. Let’s say there are three types of wins and winners:
- A ‘whatever it takes to win’ win
- An intellectual win
- An ability win
And while this is probably relevant to Life, in general, as well as sports <obviously> and personal … I am going to discuss this idea in a business environment.
Because I tend to believe this is one of the most difficult attitude & behavior decisions someone has to make in business.
Organizations ask, and demand, many things of you … and you have to reconcile all of it with your own attitude … and inevitably your actions <behavior>. As a junior person this is very difficult to manage but my suggestion is that you get things set <with the best knowledge you have> in your own head … and then look to the leaders behavior. Watch the senior people and how they treat going after a win, the process in win decision making and then how they define & evaluate the win. Make sure it matches up with what you have decided attitudinally. If you do not, you run the risk of being constantly put in positions where you do not like what you are not only being asked to do … but what you are doing.
Senior people have no excuses. No if, ands or buts. How they win defines them as a business person. All I can say to them is … well … accept it <whichever type you are>. I know what I like in my head but that doesn’t make it the only right. The only point I have to really make to leaders is that once you accept how you go after a win … then begin recruiting people who think as you do. If you do not then you will be forcing your attitudes & behavior upon others who probably do not want to, let alone like to, do it that way. And I can also promise you when it comes to evaluation time , as a leader, you will be continuously disappointed in their performance.
A whatever it takes to win.
I actually refer to this as an empty win.
This is typically the type of win done by someone who says afterwards … “all that matters is the result” … or … “it’s not the journey it is the destination” … or “winning is everything.”
It is empty because the person runs a very large risk that how you actually got to the win is ignored and everything gets measured <in their personal character measurement> on a scorecard.
I admit. I don’t like these types of wins.
But there is a personality type out there, and some very successful people, who take pride in how many checks are in the win column and could care less how they got to them. To these people … all wins are quality wins because … well … it is a win.
Typically really competitive people fall into this group.
I call this “adept” winning. You compete because you are adept at reading what it takes to win … and doing it.
This person isn’t adapting because they understand winning is about lining up the necessary variables … each time. So they aren’t adapting but rather simply building each time to win.
And they aren’t adopting anything because while some things can be reused it is mostly one time usage winning.
These types of winners are very difficult to replicate through training. and these types of winners have to be very careful in how far they will go to win. They have bigger boundaries of accepted behavior because of the adept attitude … and because of that they can stray to the boundary margins of character.
But it is the win numbers in this group that is most satisfying. Out of all three groups I have listed this one probably will chalk up the most quantity of wins in the end.
An intellectual win.
You truly outsmart someone. You outthink or tear apart the challenge in such an innovative way that your competition can just look afterwards and say … “wow … that was smart.”
This is as good as a physical <ability> win … but unfortunately many people do not evaluate it that way. In fact many of the intellectual winners kind of wish they had some other tangible contribution because thinking is … well … intangible.
This type of winning is ‘adapt & adopt” winning. You compete by adapting your thinking to the situation and adopting new ideas/thinking.
These types of winners I tend to believe are just born this way. Yes. Some aspects can be trained but these types of winners just seem to have an innate ability to see things … assess what matters versus what doesn’t matter … and assimilate the “what matters” information into either unique, or refreshingly different, ideas and thoughts.
This is a very satisfying win because you out thought someone.
An ability win.
This is ‘mano y mano.’ You bring your best and I will bring my best and let the best win.
Here is the deal.
Sometimes your best isn’t the better. And you lose. Oh. But what a loss.
This one is near & dear to my heart.
And I admit that I got really really lucky early in my career in that I was encouraged to go for this kind of ‘no frills’ winning and use losses to make my best better … so that each consecutive ‘game’ I was able to stay true to what I was good at … and it got better and better. Maybe it was partially I was stubborn on my definition of best or maybe I figured out what I was good at <even if it wasn’t the best of the best … just good while still being my personal best> early on and figured that if this was what I was good at … well … then I would only rise as high as my ‘best’ would take me.
This type of continuous winning is “adopt & adapt” winning. You compete … learn … adopt some new skills <skill level or new skill> and then adapt within your existing skill set to the next challenge. This means your muscle group gets stronger and stronger <albeit it is just one muscle group>.
This type of win is extremely satisfying. I also envision this group has the lowest actual total wins. They are the highest quality wins just not a shitload of them.
That is, of course, unless you are as good a fighter as Roberto Duran.
And that is the real differentiator in quality wins … how good you really are.
And I guess that is going to be my point having used one of the best boxers of all time.
He was one of the best.
“Manos de Piedra”, is true, Hands of Stone. Every punch, and I’m not exaggerating, every punch that he hit me with, from the body to the head, felt like bricks, stone, rocks”. – Sugar Ray Leonard
And not all of us are of that level of ‘best.’ In fact … not many people are.
So you have to figure what is most important to you in the win. The numbers? The intellectual win? The ability win? And embrace that is what makes you … well … you … in the business world.
And know when to say “no mas.”
Know when to say ‘fuck this.’
Do I give Sugar Ray credit for figuring out how to win by avoiding the Hands of Stone?
Nope <and I probably would have lost>.
Do I give Duran credit for just saying ‘no mas’ after 8 frustrating rounds?
He was the champ. He cared more about how he won the championship than the championship itself.
Now that, my friends, is a lesson that many of us should take to heart in business.
Figure out what you want … and how you want to do it … and find your place in the business world doing it.