I've been playing racquetball for several years. When I was in college, I actually took racquetball as a class for college credit. I knew I was in trouble, however, when the 65 year old female professor could easily beat me and the rest of the wannabe players.
Although my racquetball skills have improved a little bit since my demoralizing college days, I've come to realize my dreams of being a professional player probably aren’t in my future.
That was until I beat the racquetball champ.
It was a Tuesday morning. I was off on my regular morning routine of hitting the gym for a quick workout and a couple games of racquetball before heading in to the office. That morning, among our regular motley crew of out of shape old guys, was one of the league's best players.
As we divided up who would play who, I drew the short straw and was pitted against the champ. Great! Exactly what I was looking forward to - a dose of humility at 6 a.m. in morning!
The racquetball courts have one solid wall of glass that allows those waiting to play to watch the games in action. The game began along with my anticipated lesson.
Midway through the match I was surprised that I was actually keeping up with the champ. The score was 7 to 7, with the winner being the firs t to 15. I was making some great shots that he wasn't able to return. We went back and forth and back and forth until it was 14 to 14. Next point wins. It was a hard fought match, but I finally scored the winning point.
Yes! I had done it. I had beaten the champ!
My confidence was sky high. I was hopeful some of my buddies, who were waiting to play next, had seen the incredible feat that I had just accomplished. Sure enough they had.
As I was exiting the court with a big smile on my face, my friend came up and said “Great job on winning. Too bad he was playing left handed.”
When I looked back at the champ, I noticed he had in fact played the whole game left handed instead of his normal right hand. He might as well have played with one hand tied behind his back! My ego was quickly diminished and my victory celebration was short-lived.
As I look back and laugh at that story, I wonder how many times I've seen business owners use “assumed good data” on which to base their decisions or celebrations.
I met with a deck building company years ago that had gross revenues of over $1,000,000 the year before. Their goal was to double those sales the next year and they were well on their way. When I met with them, they were struggling with cash flow. “We don’t understand. If sales have doubled, why are we still struggling?” What they failed to look at is they were actually losing money every time they built a deck. So by doubling their business they were actually losing money at twice the rate of the year before!
Think about it: What decisions or celebrations have you made without having all the right information?