There’s being in the game, and then there’s going for the gold!
What does it take to stand out from the pack and deliver a winning performance?
To examine this through example, we go to a resort outside of Atlanta. At said resort gather about 270 associate lawyers from a prominent law firm—I know that this sounds like the beginning of a lawyer joke, but… At stake are bragging rights, small token prizes, and a fast track to becoming partner in the firm (well, not that last one…) The competition is called “Music Festival”--groups write songs from various genres—rock, blues, country, rap, pop, etc. For a group this size, there’s a competition for which 10 teams (out of 27) perform the songs they wrote onstage for the evening finale. Then one of the 10 groups gets named the Lawyers Got Talent winner. Exciting, right?
This is the story of one group that is in it to win. They have classic rock as their genre, and enthusiastically write a new version of Don’t Stop Believing called Don’t Stop Billing (yeah, I know…). In spite of this handicap, vision, resourcefulness, creativity, and an uncomfortably warped desire to win keep this team moving, polishing, improving, and never settling for “good enough”.
The way the process goes is that there are six “pods”—groups of five or six teams, each team in each pod writes a song in their genre during an evening session. The next day each pod meets together in a breakout room to decide which two teams from their pod has what it takes to represent their genre in the evening finale.
During the rehearsal time given before the voting in the pod room, the protagonist group in question realizes that no fewer than four groups of the six in their breakout room have chosen Don’t Stop Believing (that itself takes some believing…). They need to stand out!
One of the team members had already gone out to a local farm supply store and bought a cowbell [winning principle: go the extra mile] with the idea of incorporating the classic “More Cowbell” Saturday Night Live skit into the performance somehow [winning principle: give your audience a toehold in the Known before blowing their mind]. On the spot they also decided to open with a skit dramatizing the premise of the song [winning principle: sometimes “everything and the kitchen sink” works]. It had some pretty funny lines! Somehow in the rush of ideas they decided to transition at the end of their song into Katie Perry’s song Firework, complete with a fireworks display from someone’s iPad projected on the ballroom’s main screens! [winning principle: “Why not?”, and “a red hat will stand out in a crowd of black bowlers…”] They go from one of the crowd of Don’t Stop Believing teams to their own mini multi-media showcase! The pod chooses them to represent their genre.
Onstage the creativity, authentic energy, and sense of humor wow the crowd. Standing ovation ensues, and a big laugh when one of the band interrupts the song and says, “What this song needs is more cowbell.” [winning principle: good ideas + great execution = success]. When applause-o-meter time comes (method for determining the winner), they peg it out, take the grand prize; and then popular demand demands an encore performance of their medley by the enthusiastic crowd.
So, the morale of the story is—what do you need to do to step up your game? To go from one of the pack to a stand out winner? Creativity, enthusiasm, a bit of healthy competition, teamwork, some fun, and…don’t forget more cowbell!
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