I am a huge fan of the game of cricket, so yesterday’s stunning final was a fantastic day for me, especially as somehow, everything for once seemed to go England’s way.
As I reflected on their win, it struck me that there is a lot that business owners can learn from this victory which can help them to achieve great success, just like the England Cricket Team, so here are my top takeaways.
1. They set a goal, then put in place a plan to achieve it.
In the 2015 World Cup England took an absolute drubbing from New Zealand, being skittled out in the group stages for only 123 runs which New Zealand then chased down with 226 balls remaining. A complete drubbing.
That was a turning point for England captain Eoin Morgan as he vowed that they should play a more fearless form of cricket and really attack teams, emulating the way that New Zealand played.
This was the start of their goal to win the 2019 World Cup. They set a goal then put in place plans to achieve it.
In business, so few business owners have solid goals in place.
I have worked with 100’s of business owners over the years and when I ask them where they are now and where they want to be in a year’s time, most can only answer the first question.
Be like Morgan. Set your business goals then work out how to achieve them!
2. Once you’ve set your goal, break it down.
Goals can be crippling when you set them, often leading to their failure long before you start.
On one of my now favourite cycling routes, there is a very big hill. It goes on for a very long time. I remember when I first got back into cycling many years ago that the first time I looked at that hill, I wanted to turn around and head back home. It was massive, huge, never ending with twists and turns that revealed just more of the same damn hill!
However, I wasn’t going to quit, so instead I just looked straight down at the road below me and climbed the next metre of hill, then the next metre, then the next one, until I reached the top of the hill.
Goals need to be tackled in precisely the same way as that horrible hill.
Your end goal may seem a millions miles away when you set it, but all you have to do is to break it down into lots of small goals that lead you to the main end one at some stage in the future.
England wanted to go from being one of the worst performing teams at the 2015 World Cup, to being THE best performing team at the 2019 World Cup.
They broke down every part of their game that needed improving and then worked on each and every one of them, until they finally achieved their end goal.
Every business owner should have a goal for their business. Set one big goal and then break that down into 90 day goals to keep yourself motivated.
Once you have done that, work out what you need to do every day and every week to ensure that you hit your goals.
3. Set a deadline for your goal.
England had a deadline for their goal of 14th July 2019, the date when yesterdays World Cup final took place. This was a date set in stone. Deadlines are incredibly powerful for making things happen.
I know that when I set a goal with a deadline attached to it, then hold myself accountable to my mastermind group, that goal will be achieved nine times out of ten. If it doesn’t happen when I plan to, it will happen soon afterwards because the steps are put in place to ensure that that is the case.
Do you have goals and do you attach deadlines to them?
British cycling used to talk about marginal gains. Sir Clive Woodward when setting his goal of winning the Rugby World Cup, and then achieving it, talked of improving every aspect of their game by 1% to lead to an overall improvement of team performance of 100%.
England Cricket team had set their goal of winning the 2019 World Cup (which they did, by the way) but now they had to work out how to actually do it.
What they did was to experiment with their new style of play. They tested different ways of batting, of trying to get on top of the bowling team so that they couldn’t settle into a pattern. Much of what they tried at first failed, so they adjusted their methods, practised more and then went at it again.
They tested what worked and what didn’t and then kept doing what worked.
In business, testing new methods of marketing is a vital part of ensuring consistent growth, yet so many businesses don’t do this at all, instead relying on word of mouth only to feed their business.
That is fine for as long as it lasts, but usually in time the success of that method of hoping for work to come through the door dwindles.
The good news is that most businesses can succeed with only two to four methods of marketing feeding their business, so it is not that you have to test 100 different types of marketing to find what works, but test some you must.
5. Optimise what works
Once England found a way of batting that allowed them to score beyond 400 runs in some games, they kept on tweaking what they were doing to try and improve it.
They never believed that they had achieved success so that they could now stop and rest on their laurels. As Andre Agassi said in his great autobiography Open, “If you’re not going forwards, you’re going backwards.”
The same is true in sport as in business. When you find marketing tactics that work in terms of bringing new clients to you, just like the England team, optimise them. Tweak them to make them work just that little bit better for you and you will achieve your end goals or get very close to them.
6. Never stop learning
England only had to score 242 to win the game yesterday. As I mentioned, they have regularly passed 400 runs, so this was going to be an easy walk in the park wasn’t it?
20 runs less than the score and I think that it would have been a very much easier run chase than it turned out to be, but the key point yesterday is that when they went after the ball early, in their usual attacking form, they lost four wickets far too soon.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler had to do something different, as plan A clearly wasn’t working.
Going back just a few weeks, earlier on in the group stages of this fine tournament, England lost three matches and it looked like they could go out of the tournament.
One of the games that they lost was to Sri Lanka and was a very similar scoring game to the one that they won yesterday.
Sri Lanka set England a total of 233 runs to win. England fell short, all out for 212.
I think this was the game that ultimately won England the World Cup. Whereas they didn’t change their style of play in the Sri Lanka game, attacking all the time until they had thrown all 10 of their wickets away, yesterday Stokes and Buttler chipped away at the total, run by run, ball by ball.
The big sixes which had become their norm were tucked away in the locker room. They had learned from their Sri Lanka game and got England to the same score as New Zealand with the last ball of the game.
England never stopped learning, learning their most important lesson during the World Cup itself.
Business owners must never stop learning; never stop improving and testing, until the day that they sell their business for profit, they must keep soaking up new ways of making their business even stronger and more profitable and successful.
7. Boring, relentless consistency.
England recognised that a key part of their success would come down to fitness. I believe it was Ben Stokes that started a bit of a fitness revolution with the England team. Gone are the days when cricket players could carry some timber, they are now lean fitness machines.
Nowhere was this more important than yesterday, when the World Cup Final reached the climax of a Super Over. 6 balls for each team to score as many runs as they could.
Ben Stokes had been batting for some 98 balls already to score his 84 not out. He looked visibly tired at the end of normal play, but when asked to bat again in the Super Over he came straight back out.
His fitness was crucial to this, as it was with other members of the team too.
After England score 15 runs, New Zealand were on 14 runs with one ball to go. They need to score two runs to win, as a tie would give England the win based on their superior number of boundaries in the game.
The last ball is hit to Jason Roy who has already fumbled the ball once in this Super Over to allow New Zealand to score two runs. However, this time, despite the fatigue he lifts his game and collects the ball cleanly, hurling it flat and fast to Jos Buttler, the wicket keeper.
New Zealand have just turned to start their second run. If they complete it, the World Cup is theirs.
At this point so many wicket keepers would have fumbled the ball through pressure and excitement of the situation.
Having played cricket myself for many years I know that I have done so in run out situations. The pressure is immense.
However, I am nowhere near the same level of skill or fitness as Jos Buttler.
Jos collects the ball cleanly in his gloves then throws himself at the stumps, knocking them flat to the ground and successfully running out Martin Guptill before then running off towards the pavilion in the sheer excitement of winning a World Cup Final.
All of the hours of boring, relentless, consistent fitness training paid off when it mattered.
I have no doubt that there were times when every England player felt like missing a training session, or several of them, but they kept going, because they knew that a time would come when that fitness would be needed. It did, yesterday, and boy am I glad they never gave up on those fitness sessions.
In business, my most successful clients do some forms of marketing very well, usually only two or three are needed to build a good sized, profitable business, but they not only do these forms of marketing, they do them week in, week out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.
They do this because they know that this is what it takes to build a successful business.
Guess what. All of that boring, relentless consistency of taking action gives them their World Cup Final too; a hugely successful business that rewards them handsomely with profits.
It might not be the World Cup, but when those business profits feed your world, it damn well feels like it sometimes!
Bonus Takeaway 8 – Intuition
I had a strange feeling on the morning of the World Cup match, so strange that I had to tell my wife and son about it. I told them that England would need a crucial six runs and it would look like we were going to get it but instead the ball would be caught on the boundary, only then for the fielder to step on the boundary rope making it a six not a wicket.
This happened in the 49th over of 50 overs. Without that six, and without Stokes who would have been caught had Trent Boult not stepped back onto the boundary rope, England would not have won the world cup.
- Despite not being a gambling man, I wish I had put some money on that happening!
- I very much believe in intuition. I believe the masterpiece that is our brain often puts together past experience to come up with a conclusion that our logical brain cannot understand. In business you might call it gut feeling, but it is more than that. I know that on the many occasions I have felt strongly about doing or not doing something, but ignored my gut telling me to do the opposite and on every occasions my intuition was right. It wasn’t just playing a hunch; it was using past experience to warn me of the current one. However, we are trained to be logical and ignore this feeling these days. I just wanted to say that you shouldn’t. We have these feelings for a reason. Learn to listen to them and you will be more successful in business. For a far more detailed explanation than I could every give read the excellent book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.
I sincerely hope that you take at least one thing from this article that makes your business more successful.
Thank you England and New Zealand for a great game of cricket.
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