Business is not a Game

Originally published by Elliot S. Weissbluth on LinkedIn: An #OpenLetter to Executives Who Think Business is Like Sports

Dear fellow CEOs,

Business is not a game. We’ve said it before.

In business, there are no referees, no rules, no timeouts to stop and catch your breath, and no guaranteed “winner.”

There are plenty of silly corporate buzzwords. But the sports analogies are the worst. For instance: “I need you to get out there and give it 120%.” No. 100% is all there is. That’s what 100% means. Maybe some coach thought this was inspiring, but in business where precision and math actually matter, it simply doesn’t make sense.

This is not to say that sports are uninspiring.

I had the honor of introducing Mike Eruzione, captain of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic champion hockey team, at a HighTower event. He was invited by my partner, David Emma, a HighTower Advisor who is a former Olympian and professional hockey player. Mike spoke of his time with legendary coach Herb Brooks, who led the “Miracle” team to victory.

David, whom I admire as a dedicated professional who is deeply devoted to his clients, talks often about how his experiences on the ice shaped him — but never utters a single trite sports cliché. Hearing Mike’s story, and seeing how it inspired so many (including David), moved me to tears and forever changed my perspective on the game of hockey.

Your business is not a game.

But if you want to talk about sports, then tell a story instead. Inspire your colleagues with amazing and real accomplishments made against seemingly overwhelming odds — and avoid the clichés that high school coaches yell at their athletes.