Playing Both Sides Of The Ball In Life

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Have you ever watched a movie more than once? A third, then a fourth and a fifth time? Yes, it's called your favorite movie. I've never been a person who enjoys watching a movie more than once for the sole reason that I already know then ending. What fun is watching something when you already know how it ends? For me, it's the thrill of the unknown. Now I will admit that I'm the first to watch a documentary about someone or something that I'm fascinated with but that's only because I know the ending without the story. In those cases I'm watching to learn about the process, which is still the unknown to me. Right about now you are probably wondering where I’m going with this, but I'm talking about the lack of thrill or excitement that you lose after the first time of watching a movie, or experiencing something.

It's a lot like when you are at a company or business, with a person, or anything new that you now must deal with on a regular basis. After the first year or two and progressively after that you know more and more of what to expect. It's like in the NBA playoffs; you have to play the same team for 7 games. By the end of the series you know your opponent better than your own wife. When you know what to expect from your opposition/competition, it's much easier to prepare. And with proper preparation and accurate expectations, you will win in the game of life. But this truth goes both ways. When they know what to expect from you, you are more easily beaten. The trick is to 'become' predictable, while always being aware of your state. Then when the right time comes and they least expect it, you do what others wouldn't expect. Let me explain.

I have now worked with some of the same people for 3 consecutive years. I've noticed that I'm much better at dealing with everyone, or essentially getting what I want more often than before. So what could the difference be? I've dealt with everyone for 3 years now, I know what to expect from them and they know what to expect from me. And if you go one level further, I KNOW THAT THEY KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ME. Learn how to use your own tendencies to your advantage. You know yourself better than anyone else so after you know someone for more than a year or so you can assume that they are going to expect a certain norm from you. Think about it, the fact that you know EXACTLY what they expect from you means that you have an advantage, but only if you realize this. It's called playing offense, and I'll dive into this deeper later. You can play bad defense, bad offense, and be a bad player at life or you can be the opposite. I'm going to tell you how to play good social defense, and then take that to the next level to play social offense. Be the JJ Watt and Tom Brady of your social circle. 

Playing good defense: Imagine, or maybe not, that you have been in a relationship, business or anything for more than 2 years. Odds are that you know everyone around you extremely well. You know everyone so well that you know exactly what to expect from them. So why aren't you using this knowledge to your advantage?! Knowledge is power right? If you know what to expect from someone, anticipate it and plan for it. I don't really know how to best portray this without using examples. A long time ago I was in a relationship, believe it or not. And I was only able to maintain those few, short lived relationships by playing good defense. (I got very good at playing defense because quite often my ‘offense’ would get me into trouble ;) even one time while at my house when my girlfriend came to the front door with a golf club and a hot temper.. let’s just say I played better defense than the 2000 Baltimore Ravens that day, phew.) Ok that’s a terrible example, let me try again.

When I did manage to maintain a relationship, it was because I knew what to expect from my significant other. So if I was in a situation when I knew that my reaction/action would result in something from my significant other that I could expect, then I would anticipate and plan for it. So for example, I wanted to go to a party that I knew my girlfriend wouldn't approve of; Make sure that she is aware of this event as far in advance as possible. Then in the days leading up to the party I would do things to soften her up; buying gifts, running errands, and all the small things to make her happy. Make it hard for her to say no. Now it’s the day of the party and she’s still on the fence… I would make a logical excuse as to why it was important for me to attend, possibly even a reason that could benefit her. For example, someone will be at the party that you need to discuss an opportunity with. Whatever it is, you must prepare a response for the anticipated rejection that you will receive when discussing attending this event. Plan for the worst case response and play defense. Oh, and if she ends up saying yes then this was all just good practice. ;)

Playing defense at work: We all have a boss. If you don't have a boss and you’re reading this article… why are you reading this article? We all have a boss and we all probably know just about what to expect from them, so plan for it!! If your boss or partner cares more about one aspect of the business or relationship than another, don't waste your time in the area that doesn’t matter to them! Know your competition, and know what to expect. Plan accordingly. If your boss is heavy in one area of the business (growth, profit, safety, etc.) then focus your attention in those areas. Don't waste your time in areas that don’t move the needle.

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I’ve experienced a situation when my organization cared more about one area of the business than they did most others. Some of the areas that they cared about the most could even be enhanced by sacrificing some of the others that they didn’t! So what do you think I did? I played the cards as they lay. If a business doesn't scrutinize a certain area (lost business) but emphasizes another areas (profit) then focus on the outcome, not the factors. You can hide shortcomings with over performances. It's like how the New England Patriots guise their lack of receivers by being great at tight end, Rob Gronkowski. No one cares that they don't have great receivers if they can win games in other ways. Winning games is the end result. Now let’s talk about turning a bad situation into a good one. 

Now take an offensive approach. Use your knowledge to your advantage. Anticipate a reaction and plan accordingly. Now that you have a planned reaction to their anticipated reaction, you can start playing offense. Let’s talk about your relationship first. Anticipate a bad outcome. You know that you have done something wrong, why are you just taking it on the chin? Plan for it and accommodate. Let’s discuss.

Alright, so there’s something that you really want or you just did something bad that you will have to explain to your significant other and you KNOW that the reaction will be bad. How can you plan for this and avoid a large argument. Start playing offense. For example, you just lost $500 gambling and you are on your way home to try and explain this. The first thing that you need to do is start by telling your significant other that you lost $1500 instead of $500, this way you soften the blow and it seems much more reasonable to only lose $500 when at first they thought you lost $1500. Imagine if you tried this technique in the opposite direction… I don’t think that would work out so well.

So they are still upset that you lost $500, even though it’s much less than if you lost $1500. That’s playing solid, ‘Baltimore Raven-like’ defense, but how often do you see a team win a championship solely off of good defense? Rarely, so learn to play offense. You need both.

So you have softened the blow but they are still upset about the situation. This is when you reveal your plan to recoup these lost wages. So you lost $500 and she’s upset, but you have a plan in place to recover this money within 4 weeks. Now that $500 doesn’t seem so bad right? Even if you don’t ever actually recover the money, you have given off an impression of responsibility and shown the ability to make up for your mistakes. This goes a long way when you come to someone with bad news in almost any situation. Now, if you as far as to have an affair…. Then you might need to get a little more creative with your defensive and offensive game plans…

Now you’re at work, and you probably know your boss inside and out. You know how they are going to react in almost any situation. This entire article is really about the predictability of people. Do the same thing at work that you did in the relationship example. Don’t ever confront your boss with a problem and no solution. That a bad employee. Good employee’s offer a solution along with any problem that arises. It’s a simple concept but it shows a ton of pro-activeness. It also tends to make them less likely to further investigate the problem, which you want them staying out of your business. Let’s be honest no one likes problems, so make them easier to receive! Just imagine the shoe is on the other foot… doesn’t it bother you when people come to you with issues and no solutions? Then expect you to figure everything out for them? Yea, it’s annoying.

Now you are a social All-Star player and you have a better idea of how to anticipate reactions from people. You even know how to anticipate your own reactions and use how to use this knowledge to your advantage! I’m sure that you have known this all along but now you are more aware. It’s really all about being proactive instead of reactive. What’s the old saying..? The early bird gets the worm!