Anyone who ever tells me that they want to fight something based on “principle,” will never get my support.
I know that sounds harsh.
Fighting a war with an endless series of battles, leading to nothing significant in the end, is just not meaningful.
Put more simply: “Principle” is a mirage.
I could end this post here, leaving you with this somewhat controversial perspective, and maybe cause some of you to unsubscribe for good.
But I urge you to hear me out on why standing on principle alone is a bad idea.
And why I plan to make this a topic for deeper discussion during my upcoming “Overdeliver Boot Camp” next month…early bird details in the P.S.
Here are three examples to kick off the discussion:
1) “We won our lawsuit…but the only people who really won (i.e., the only ones who made money) were the lawyers”
You’ve heard me on this one before…when I wrote, “Don’t make your lawyer rich.”
It’s a story about how I could have gone guns blazing into an intellectual property dispute—but the tact I took started peaceful…remained peaceful throughout…and ended with a big win (for both sides) …and one where there were no attorneys involved.
I encourage you to read it here.
That doesn’t mean that you can avoid legal battles in business…but choose your battles on substance, not principle.
Some examples of “substance” might be avoiding bankruptcy, fighting unjust or inflammatory accusations that could result in bankruptcy (or worse) …or something that has much more to do than just getting points or a “win” (that might actually end up being a loss).
There is a case that began in 2020 involving a $100 million investment advisory publication, “Raging Bull,” who was sued by the FTC…technically they “won” after two years of misery and being in court throughout …but lost everything in the process.
You can watch an interview with the founders of “Raging Bull” here for some incredible lessons.
One lesson in particular is a cautious reminder:
It’s easy to set precedent when you are a large, bureaucratic, behemoth (in this case, the FTC) …dealing with a relatively small, weak opponent (in this case, “Raging Bull”) …by getting them to submit/surrender quickly…(since many can’t even afford an attorney to fight the charges).
I had similar experiences during my 34 years working at Boardroom Inc., the publishing company I helped build into a direct marketing institution.
Mine weren’t from the FTC…but from two other 3-letter institutions who shall remain unnamed. 🙂
“Raging Bull” found the money for lawyers…they had to fight the charges…and it was ugly.
They technically “won” the case–but on every metric–spending, stress level, bad press–it was a big loser.
How “Raging Bull” got into this mess is also instructional for anyone in publishing—whether in financial markets, health and weight loss etc.—and how they “won” is still inspiring.
But in winning they lost everything.
2) “You lost…so you are a failure, correct?”
Giannis Antetokounmpo, one the best basketball players in the world today, labelled affectionately as the “Greek Freak” (due to his incredible athleticism), was asked if this past season was a failure…because his team had the best record…but lost in the first round of the playoffs to an inferior opponent.
I think you will like hearing his refreshing answer here.
It’s around 2 minutes.
If you don’t want to watch it, here are some highlights…
My favorite exchange was when Giannis turned it around on the reporter and asked (and I am paraphrasing):
Do you get a promotion every year?
But every year you work towards something anyway, correct?
You can see where he was heading.
A “loss” is not equivalent to “failure.”
In fact, a loss is never a loss.
“We win or we learn.”
That quote is from world champion agility dog trainer, Susan Garrett…and hopefully you have heard it before from me (since I repeat it a lot).
And we don’t win or learn based on “principle.”
We do both through action.
Another thing Giannis pointed out (and I am paraphrasing again):
Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player who has ever played the game, played 15 years, and “only” won 6 championships.
What about the other 9 years?
Every year, winning or learning, became a year of wins.
Steps in a process.
To win those 6 championships Michael had to pay close attention during the other 9 about how to win the 6 he did.
Thanks Giannis. Thanks Michael. 🙂
3) “Overdelivery is dangerous…don’t do it”
When I was testing out titles for my bookwith people I hold in high regard, a few thought that Overdeliver was a terrible title.
In short, they said:
When you overdeliver all the time, at some point, you will disappoint.
That is, your audience (friends, clients, customers etc.) may see your latest “delivery” as inferior (i.e., far from overdelivery) –compared to a previous delivery–and ask, “what are you doing for me lately (i.e., now)?”
And they will be disappointed…and then leave you. 🙁
I say hogwash to that.
What these folks were telling me is that we should underdeliver regularly so that when we overdeliver it’s a surprise.
An unexpected bonus.
Not the norm.
I would hate to live like that…hopefully you agree with me…since as you know, I titled my book Overdeliver (despite the haters).
I prefer to overdeliver all the time regardless of what I am planning for next time.
If you are reading this post today, possibly thinking it is not the best example of overdelivery I’ve ever sent to you, you won’t leave me, will you?
And if you do, I can live with that.
But please don’t leave. 🙂
Winning or losing at the game of life is not a matter of choosing winning over losing.
It’s more like a smoothie blend, which includes:
Not doing anything based solely on “the principle of the thing” (including not doing anything where lawyers are the only people who get rich).
Never equate losing with failure.
And never underdeliver when you can overdeliver.
P.S. Despite not inventing anything in my life, I’ve written two books.
Not that it is such an astounding feat…but I am proud of both…and I have developed over the years a need to share conversations and interactions about both…with people smarter than me.
I do that informally inside my Titans Xcelerator virtual mastermind almost weekly…not just about my books but about marketing current events (with hot seats, special guests and more).
But focusing on my books with deeper conversation—especially Overdeliver—is something I want to do much more…and I have an idea (which of course was invented by someone else). 🙂
Marketing genius (and wonderful friend) Jason Fladlian created what he calls an “E-Class” …and he maintains that no book should be sold without one.
People buy books but far fewer read them…why not read them along with the author with lively interaction, “homework,” case histories…thereby turning the book into a utility?
Beginning on June 20th that is what I’m planning.
Have I got a utility for you.
Over two weeks and six (6) LIVE one-hour calls (which will be recorded), I will be leading my first “Overdeliver E-Class” …with exercises, office hours, and hot seats (and maybe an obstacle course or two?). 🙂
I am calling it The Overdeliver Boot Camp.
Whether you have the book or not, everyone is welcome…I hope you will join me.
And if you need to pick up a copy, go to OverdeliverBook.com so you receive an overdelivery of bonuses with purchase.
More importantly, go to this page right now to sign up to the alert list for The Overdeliver Bootcamp…so when I open up the limited available seats (to keep it intimate at 60 people max), you will be guaranteed one.
We will have a blast, discussing how to win…how to never lose…and how to always learn.
I need my online family involved to do this at the highest level.
The Overdeliver Bootcamp…please be there.
I promise to overdeliver if you will. 🙂