We must continue to educate our teams about this disease and do everything in our power to make them mindful of the detrimental consequences.
It's early in the season or quarter and all signs point towards a successful year. Things are going well, your team or organization has strung along with a few victories, and everything seems to be moving in a positive direction. Which means this is the perfect time to discuss a huge problem we all face: "Victory Disease."
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of Japan coined the term in 1941 when Japan decided, despite his reservations, to bomb Pearl Harbor. Flushed with success, the Japanese forgot its 'defensive perimeter' (which included much of mainland China, the Philippines, Burma, and Malaysia), and attacked the Midway Islands in the Central Pacific. The Japanese lost the battle of Midway in June 1942, lost Yamamoto a year later (his plane was shot down) and the war by 1945.
We are all not in the military fighting the last war. However, we all do suffer from some form of "Victory Disease" each week, quarter, or season. We believe we know the signs. We think we can stop it before it happens and right before our very eyes, boom; it rears its ugly head. We talk to our teams and organization about not being overconfident, living in the here and now. However, with so much media attention posting records or earnings, it's often hard to ignore. As leaders and teachers, we must continue to educate our teams about this disease and do everything in our power to make them mindful of the detrimental consequences.
Here are three great ways to help fight off Victory Disease.
1. Set a time table for enjoyment. Without celebrating the win, what good is winning? Have a firm time and date that ends the conversation and celebration about last weeks game or yesterday's achievement.
2. Ignore the last successful game or quarter with your future preparation. Don't give a subliminal message or the opportunity to be reminded of a past victorious experience. You might believe this helps show the players and staff the right way, yet in reality, they only see the reminder of victory. This maneuver causes the disease to spread. Use bad experiences as future education.
3. Have examples of teams and organizations who have fallen to the Victory Disease. Use different ways to message this point. When Facebook moved into the office, Mark Zuckerberg didn't replace Sun Microsystem's sign. Instead, he flipped it over and put Facebook's name on the front. Why? The Sun logo reminded employees to stay motivated. It demonstrates what can happen when you're on top but fail to innovate and evolve with the times.
There is a fine line between enjoyment and maintaining excellence. To keep winning, you cannot "play it safe," and become complacent riding out past success; or you might become susceptible to the Victory Disease. Maintain an aggressive, self-confident yet humble manner and mindset as you follow and implement these strategies each week.
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