Tag Archives: compete

The Race Is On! But Will YOU Win?

Wouldn’t you love to learn how to raise the competitive spirit of your team?

Last week we did just that, with a select group of landscape and irrigation business owners at my Driven To Win event, held at BMW’s high-performance racetrack in S.C. 

It was unique and exhilarating; not your typical landscape conference!

Here are 6 lessons from the event that you, as a landscape contractor, can apply right away:

1. The Excitement of Competing Against One’s Peers

Even though no money was at stake, we all wanted to win the various mini-competitions that BMW set up for us. 

One of the attendees, Ken Hutten, shared that he is reserved and not normally competitive, but he stepped up and won one of the contests. He enjoyed the competition and camaraderie, and pondered how he could bring that same degree of excitement back to his operations. 

So how do you create fun competition in your company to crank up your people’s focus and results?

2. The Power of Metrics

We could see our scores (and the scores of our peers) each time we raced through a ‘time trial,’ and so we immediately had a new goal to beat, whether it was ours or our peers. 

This immediate feedback was a wonderful mechanism for improvement. 

So, how do you give meaningful daily and weekly feedback? Does it instill a competitive spirit?

3. Camaraderie Made Us All Excel

We enjoyed getting to know one another personally over a meal the night before the event. (We had a private chef in an exclusive loft.) 

This increased our enjoyment and our willingness to get “naked”, i.e., be more open and honest with each other when we convened the final day to debrief and apply our experiences.

Do you have that same level of open trust on your team?

4. Getting Feedback Was Crucial

We had three to four professional racecar drivers who were coaching us throughout the day.  

Some of us got too much feedback and it became distracting, and at other times we received “the perfect tip” to greatly increase speed around a corner. 

There were also times we were left wanting more feedback. (I wanted to beat one of the others and needed crucial feedback, but the coach wasn’t paying attention and couldn’t help me.)

Your business lesson – how, and how often, you give feedback is crucial – every employee wants it differently. Some want it more direct and more often than you think. Ask your people; make learning fun.

5. Daily Brief/Debrief

It helped us as a group to debrief how we did after it was all over, and then apply the lessons back to our business. We all had skin in the game (pride, business and personal goals). 

When your people have skin in the game, and when they have their own personal goals, they will gain even more value from the debriefs you hold at work — whether daily or weekly.

6. We Shared Our Failures

By the end of the day we were tired, and yet we had one more competition – the final time trial.  

I was pumped…but then I spun my $110,000 M5 off the track into the dirt. (No damage luckily.) I wanted to win, but my stamina could not keep up.  I was seeing the “red mist”, i.e., where one’s ambition clouds one’s judgment. Not good. ;-(

I was not alone. And so we took time to discuss our failures––on the track and in business. We kept it real and learned from each other. 

The best learning organizations have developed this same trust and a method for sharing problems and how to overcome them. Do you have this same camaraderie and support at your company?

Your Challenge: Make work fun, make competing fun, and use feedback and metrics to help your people improve. Don’t be afraid to share failures. And, just as important, take time away from the day-to-day to recharge and take advantage of out-of-the-box learning.  

See photos below, and stay tuned for my next unique event to help you truly excel at work.

bmw racing track

BMW performance track in S.C.

Jeffrey Scott bmw thumbs up

Ready to rumble!

bmw racing competition

Excited to get started!

bmw racing group team photo

We left it all out on the track.

bmw race team medals competition

Top 3 drivers of the day!

Compete Like an Ironman

This weekend I was in southern Utah, visiting my daughter who is in school there. We arrived in town the same weekend as the Ironman 70.3 St George. The views these athletes enjoyed are spectacular, including Snow Canyon and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Apparently the bike and run courses are two of the most challenging, with high climbs and epic descends.

This grueling Ironman race is similar to the 100 days of hell that landscape contracting can feel like in the spring and summer. In both pursuits, the effort put fourth and the results achieved are extra ordinary.

The main difference is that the Ironman has all the endurance, pain and intensity wrapped up into a single day!

We can learn a lot from these champion athletes competing in the Ironman. Here are a few proven tips from these courageous men and women; following these will help ensure your success this year.

Mentally Fit: Being physically fit allows you to compete, but to win, you must be mentally fit, too.  It is not about working harder, but about the spirit with which you undertake the work.

It is your job as leader to keep your people’s spirits high on rainy days, on hot days, on long grueling weeks, and on jobs that take a long time.

As leader, you must also keep your own spirits up. I have always found that staying active and exercise keeps my spirits high and my emotions grounded. Protect your brain and body chemistry by staying active.

Positive in all things: It is common to have setbacks and downturns; athletes can fall behind early in one leg of the race, but still catch up by the end of the day to win. The key is to bring a positive view to every challenge; you can do this two ways:

  1. Turn negatives (“this is going to take twice as long as we budgeted”) into positive statements (“we will make this client proud and earn their referrals”)
  2. Turn negatives (“we are in trouble because we lost our best employee”) into questions (“how can we pull together as a team and keep production on track?”)

Break down your goals: Don’t get over whelmed by your goals (like completing a 70.3 mile course in the top 1% of the pack.) Break them into bite-sized chunks steps; for example: returning all clients calls within 4 hours, or getting out of the yard on time with all tools and materials needed, or getting a certain amount of work done before lunch.

If needed, break these chunks into even smaller steps. Simplifying your goals allows your team to develop repeatable best-practices around the basics. This strategy helps win Ironman races and will help you win as well.

Challenge your limits: Don’t accept past standards as your limit. The 4-minute mile was a long-standing mental limit until Roger Banister broke it. The same goes for your own limits. Use progressive raising of goals to set a new standard. For example, you may have needed 35 minutes to get out of the yard, ask your team to reduce that time to 25 minutes and empower them to figure out how; once achieved, set a new goal and aim for 15 minutes.

This is applicable to all facets of your business. These days it is called Continuous Improvement. For athletes it is recognized as pushing both physical and mental limits, in order to create new standards.

Failure is ok: Failure is a normal part of pushing oneself and trying new things. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. Always take time to assess your (significant) failures, and then move on quickly. Don’t skip this learning step.

Jeffrey’s Breakthrough Idea: The leader has a similar role to the athletic coach. You are the thermometer; keep your spirits high, remain positive, and push the envelope of your team.

Take action: With your team, take time to assess how things are going on a regular basis. Constantly assess the wins, and the health of your team. Take time to review any meaningful failures, and keep the team focused on the next goal. Identify areas for continuous improvement, where new higher-performance standards can be established.

A few photos from our Utah trip:

With my daughter, opposite Kolob Canyon. Notice the snow still on the peaks.

Biking near Zion. A couple days before the Ironman.