As I may have mentioned once or 12 times, I’m a nerd. Ask my wife or daughters, and they’ll back that up. Quickly.
I tend to read lots of management books and articles. When I do sit down to watch TV, I usually end up on The Learning Channel, Discovery or one of those channels. To be totally honest, I’m very sure that five decades ago my parents would’ve been absolutely delighted if I had enjoyed learning this much, but unfortunately for them, that particular passion didn’t strike until way past the end of school.
So it was that I found myself watching TV the other evening and ran across an old program entitled Fight Quest. I only watched for a little while and can’t even tell you what it’s all about. It appeared to follow a couple of American guys as they learned different forms of fighting.
I know, I know, what the heck does this have to do with management?
Bear with me.
In this particular episode, the fighters were in some far eastern country. It appeared they were in a courtyard of a temple and they had on the traditional white outfits you would associate with judo or karate. The fights that ensued followed a very formal process. The fighter, who was an American, would go against five different fighters who I assume were part of the temple. Each encounter would last one minute. The challenge for the American would be, basically, to survive without being knocked out or disabled somehow.
OK, we’re finally at the management lesson.
While warming up, one of the Americans said that the easiest thing to do is to visualize all the worst things happening; getting beaten up badly, etc. He said it would be very easy to lose.
The challenge, he added, is to continue visualizing how to win. He wanted to see in his mind’s eye the steps it would take, the technique. He essentially put himself in position to win by having a plan, by focusing on the positives and by keeping the negatives as far from his mind as he could.
It worked. He survived the five one-minute encounters, although he certainly did look a little worse for wear.
What a great lesson for those on the management front lines. It’s so easy to look at what can go wrong, at how things can fall apart. Certainly we can’t be Pollyanna with our head stuck in the clouds, but having that positive outlook is crucial.
So take a lesson and remember to visualize the path to success. And be happy you don’t have to take on five different tough guys to get there! (Although in today’s climate, that might be easier!)

Next week: More to come.

Business Playbook is written by Tim Timmons. Timmons’ book, Coaching Success: Creating Champions for the Business World is available at