“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?” - Vince Lombardi. Is not one goal of each and every coach to win every game? Didn’t coaching legends Vince Lombardi, Red Auerbach, et al, hate losing?

Is not the goal of every contractor owner, who is supposed to be both coach and leader of his/her employees, to be successful in every project completed every day? If there were 12 projects to complete in a day, would not the coach/leader/contractor owner be frustrated if only nine were completed?

In the eyes of Human Synergistics International, apparently it is perfectly OK for a coach to have a goal of winning only nine out of 12 remaining games. That is one thing, among many, I learned recently at the Masters of the Game II Conference, put on by HVAC Learning Solutions, which is under Lennox Industries’ wing.

As a coach, I always want to win every game, be there nine games, 12 games, or 203 games. In my coaching book, you try to instill in your players a desire to go out there and win every time. You don’t state, “OK, team, with 12 games remaining, let’s go out and win nine,” do you? If I am learning anything from the coaching greats, the statement should be, “OK, team, with 12 games remaining, let’s go out there and win those 12. Losing is not an option!”

Human Synergistics believes differently.

Maybe I should explain the background better.

As part of the above-mentioned conference, each contractor attendee participated in an exercise titled “Coaching Co-Achieving.” The exercise tackled at Masters II was designed, per the company Human Synergistics, “to allow each person to explore achievement, leadership, coaching, and other concepts related to motivating employees and teams.”

In this exercise, each contractor participant was to assume the role of a one-time successful sports coach, who was brought in to coach a sports team that had lost five of their first six games.

Question 17 simply asked: “With 12 games to go in the competition, select one of the following goals: a) Win all 12 games; b) Win six games (estimated 75 percent chance of success); c) Take each game as it comes; d) Win 9 games (estimated 50 percent chance of success); or e) Win three games (avoid being the bottom team).”

“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place.” - Vince Lombardi

It’s a no-brainer. “A” is the answer, right? You try to go out and win every time, whether it is a game on the playing field or a competition for a project, job, or some hotly contested sale. The contractors you compete with aren’t going out on sales calls just for the practice. They are trying to win. They are trying to increase their sales volume.

So, is “A” the right answer?

Not in the exercise creator’s eyes.

According to Human Synergistics’ research, “Those high on achievement set their goals at a moderate level of difficulty (70-80 percent chance of success). However, when the odds are 50/50, they are most motivated because they believe their personal effort will make the difference in achieving success. Beyond those odds, motivation rapidly declines.”

To some extent, I can see this point, but I still remain firm in the belief that a coach goes out to win games, just as a contractor goes out to win projects, salesperson/comfort advisor goes out to win over the customer, and technicians go out to win diagnostic and troubleshooting battles.

Think of it this way: If it was OK for doctors to successfully catch newborn babies with only a 70-80 percent rate of accuracy, would that be acceptable? Would winning only some of the time be OK?

In answering “A” for Question 17, the booklet stated: “Winning 12 games is unrealistic and players will lack commitment to the goal. Set a more achievable goal.” In this case, “D” was the correct answer, as the booklet stated: “Winning nine games is a stretch goal that is achievable (50 percent chance of success). It is a high-achievement goal.”

This may sound OK for some people - I disagree. You go out to win ’em all. That should be the goal of every coach, contractor, leader, salesperson, comfort advisor, technician, and every employee - period.

Maybe the doctor dropped me on my head, but if I’m wrong, I’d like to hear from somebody who is satisfied with only closing 50 percent of their sales calls, or happy with only fixing a problem half of the time.

Me? I believe in Vince Lombardi.

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” - Vince Lombardi.

Publication date: 12/18/2006