As someone who grew up sailing I am fascinated by the America’s Cup which has just been won by Emirates Team New Zealand in Bermuda this morning.
There is so much to love about the event – the thrills and spills, the technology, the teamwork and the high level skill of the sailors.
New Zealand defeated Oracle Team USA, which interestingly was skippered by Aussie, Jimmy Spithill who was supported by brain’s trust, fellow Aussie Tom Slingsby and Sir Ben Ainslie from the UK!
After each race in the final series there was a press conference with the skippers. A theme that ran through every debrief was that the winning team made less mistakes than the losing team. Not no mistakes, but less mistakes. Both teams and their skippers know that it is virtually impossible to sail a mistake free race, such is the nature of the event.
The other interesting aspect is that both teams spoke frequently about the balance between risk and reward. As the teams made adjustments to the boats in order to find more speed, they increased the risk of mistakes due to the subsequent difficulty in being able to sail their boat safely. They knew they had to take risks in order to win.
Many of us fear failure so much that we don’t extend ourselves. We are so worried about what people think if we make a mistake, that we play it safe. We’d rather be mediocre and look good than risk looking bad.
In order to win big as leaders we have to take risks and make mistakes.
Are you playing it too safe?