Using Belief and Balance: The Percentage Game

There was never a truer statement than: “If you believe you can, you will, and if you believe you can’t, you won’t.” This is extremely pertinent in a time of massive disruption and change, where very established businesses can be taken out by a start-up company with a better product or service and a better price.

The following story really captures the importance of this.

An English shoe company called Samson Shoes sends their top salesman out to Central Africa. The guy gets off the plane and after 24 hours, checks in with his boss and tells him he has made a massive mistake sending him to this terrible backwater, as there is hardly anyone wearing shoes. The boss tells him to persevere and check in weekly.

After three weeks of negative feedback and not one breakthrough, the boss tells the salesman to get on a plane and come home.

The boss was considering his next move when the young kid working in the shipping department came into his office and said he had heard about the company expanding into Africa and wanted to apply for a sales job. The boss thought ‘what the hell, if nothing else, this kid has the right attitude’.

The following week the kid arrives in exactly the same airport that the first guy had a month earlier. He rings the boss before he even got to his hotel telling him how excited he was and that this is the smartest move the boss had ever made: “Hardly anyone out here has shoes yet, the market is wide open.” He went on to set up a very successful export market for their shoes in Africa.

We have already intimated that opportunities are all around us, and it’s up to us as to how we see them!

The second thing you can use to improve your chances of success is to learn how to play the percentage game!

What does this mean? Always focus your efforts on the biggest percentage of likely outcome, rather than the exception.

How do I play successfully?

  1. A successful life is more than your work. Allocate a percentage of yourself to family, fitness/health, spirituality etc. Even a smallish allocation daily can accumulate and deliver big results over a longer term.
  2. Spend the most time doing the high-paying work – how fast you progress can be affected by what percentage of your time you allocate to the things that matter the most.
  3. Always find time to laugh. The percentage of the time you are happy is part of your success. Try being unhappy when you are laughing all day.
  4. Help everyone around you. The percentage of people you help will influence the percentage of people that will help you.
  5. Focus on really improving the experience of those you serve (customers). A 1 percent improvement every day will very quickly make you the best regardless of how bad you are at the start.
  6. Be brave. Have courage 100 percent of the time and you will be surprised how little you need it.
  7. Do everything with 100 percent commitment and belief.

MARK COLLINS is a specialist food service and hospitality Business adviser.