Perennial winners are used to being lauded and hoisting trophies at the end of games. They smile and high five, and then they get back to work. The only thing better than winning once and celebrating is winning every year. Great teams in any field should emulate the dynasties by popping champagne and solemnly toasting to do even better next year. A huge part of overcoming fear and trepidation is the conviction that successes aren’t flukes and that failures can happen. When you’re not worried about failing, it frees up more bandwidth to be creative and efficient. And the more creative and efficient you are, the less likely you are to fail in the first place.
Not every champion has the same style of swagger, just like every agency and team has a different attitude and chemistry. STACK on Yahoo Sports looked at five iconic winning styles—unemotional and calm, relaxed and sociable, all business, flashy, and team effort—and determined that while every style is dramatically different, they’re equally effective. Does your team need to have more fun? Would you produce more consistent excellence if everyone had a greater (or lesser) sense of urgency? Sports psychology in marketing means identifying your team’s personality and learning how to play to its strengths. Whether you’re laughing at the starting line or all business, make sure that your attitude is aligned with your people and your product.
Competitive settings shouldn’t be fearful—they should be fun! Establish internal competition that has fun outcomes for winners, without any dreadful side effects for those who don’t come out on top. The motivating power of a boss dyeing his or her hair or a chicken and waffles party for the whole department is staggering. Whatever winning means in your niche, find ways to do it without imparting fear on your team. We already have a weird penchant for irrational fear; there’s no need to add “failed ad campaigns” to the list alongside sharks, spiders, and streakers.
It’s too easy to let fear of imagined consequences interfere with taking risks. Eliminate sweaty palms and increased heart rates in the boardroom by outlining what will actually happen if you “lose.” Fear is very abstract in the business world, and it’s easy to get carried away with dread, which leads to caution, which leads to stagnation. Rock climbers have to separate mental fear from tangible, situational fear to reach new heights (pun intended). Learning to distinguish between fears can be the most liberating thing an athlete or marketer can do. When you’re not nervous about imagined or hypothetical loss situations, you’re more focused on doing what it takes to win.
As a team leader and a motivator, you can learn from the above examples to avoid invoking fear. Positive motivation is proven to work better than negative. This is why more and more sports teams are turning to motivational speakers, and why many leagues are partnering with the Positive Coaching Alliance. Instead of making your team members nervous with aggressive consequences, just teach them to be the best they can be. And instead of telling them to avoid losing—which leads to boring, risk-averse approaches—encourage them to harness their strengths to do something nobody has ever done before.
People are more effective when you tell them they write like Shakespeare than when you tell them not to mess up, lest they end up living in vans down by the river. Innovation is the name of the game in marketing, so free your team from fear and start winning today.
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