We’ve all been there. High pressure, deadlines looming, and targets to achieve. In business, that’s all too familiar. And so often, when the pressure is on, we stop operating from a place of inspiration, and default to a place of desperation. The pressure takes hold. It ripples and radiates, moving from one person to the next.
It isn’t healthy, and it always affects the process and the end result.
When we’re playing not to lose, rather than playing to win, we tend to play safe. We’re defensive. This culture of fear—“this project is doomed to fail!”—smothers opportunity, freedom, and purpose in your people. You might get across the line, but a positive outcome and sense of achievement are unlikely—let alone any team or personal satisfaction.
Yet in any situation, you have the power and ability to change your mindset and that of others, and to set the tone for how you respond.
How we approach our work makes all the difference
If you bring a conscious commitment and fearless focus to the work you do each day, that’ll shape the way. Ask yourself, are we going to win, or are we going to get by? A team that believes it’s going to win, is a team that usually goes on to win. Your job as leader is to inspire that quality in your people.
The following three ideas underpin the principles of Inspiration vs Desperation:
1. Working from inspiration is a mindset and a muscle
As a leader, you have to show up every day with a mindset that asks: are we operating from a place of inspiration or desperation? For a time, I worked as the CMO at Lime, the world’s largest micro-mobility provider. I recall we had five weeks to launch the brand in Germany, one of the biggest markets. The dynamic in those early meetings was one of desperation; it was almost combative. At one point, I encouraged those present to think about what was possible— “Imagine if we did that?” The energy began to shift. We had moved to a more empowered mindset of thinking we could win, rather than we were about to lose. The team were amazing and, incredibly, we went on to win the top two brand awards that year in Germany, beating off the likes of BMW, Porsche and SAP. So, practice and instil this mindset every day. Like any muscle, it needs to be used.
2. Your energy defines your culture
The energy you bring to work each day shapes and defines your culture, and your outcomes. So help your team by approaching things from a place of possibility and opportunity. Ask questions. Open up the conversation to create momentum for magic results.
3. Have the courage to dream
Sometimes, what you’re being asked to do might seem impossible. But rather than see it as a threat, why not see it as an opportunity? With inspiration and self-belief, amazing things can happen. So, however daunting the task or project might be, don’t be afraid to dream big. Look at the end goal. Set an impossible deadline (it focuses the mind) and ask yourself and your team, “What are we going to do to make this work?”
At its heart, the notion of Inspiration vs Desperation is simple. But that’s a good thing. In the complex world of business and people, simple is your friend. Simple brings great clarity. It can help you make a difference. With no limit to what you can achieve.