In the run-up to the Olympics, and at a time when parts of the financial services industry are being investigated about various compliance and legal failings, Diane Harrison, principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, argues that being a good sportsman in as important in business as in competitive sports. Views are the author's own but this website is grateful for permission to publish them. As always, responses are welcome.
I am a business owner, a competitive athlete, and a contributing member of society. I’ve owned my marketing firm for over ten years, been playing and competing in sports my entire life, and have been a taxpayer and volunteer for decades. Having spent a considerable amount of time at these endeavors, I feel qualified to share some observations about these separate ventures in making a positive impact on others, including how it pertains to the investment management industry.
A leader naturally wants to be first: to finish ahead of the competition, to define the farthest reaches of the current landscape, and to bring followers along for the ride to a better place. It’s occupied by the record breakers in sports, the entrepreneurs in business, and the innovators in society. It is also incumbent upon the striver to achieve success within the context of fairness – to win by achievement, rather than duplicity. With that context in mind, I’d like to offer a few key points about making an impact which I believe are constructive to those of us who serve the investment community, whether that be through direct or indirect participation in wealth management and investment performance.
Being a good sport. Sportsmanship relates to the overall balance between being competitive and being fair. It means knowing the rules, playing within the boundaries, but pushing the envelope. As the world looks forward to the 2012 Olympics in London this month, amid all the challenges and trials of our geopolitical economic situation, it’s one of the primary reasons why society applauds the efforts and strivings of individuals from all stages of life when they come together to compete amidst a spirit of common goals and a great desire to be the first, the best, the only.
It is human nature to want to win, but equally important to do so within a context of defined and accepted rules – to be recognized as a success for besting the rest through a predetermined framework. It’s the reason why millions will tune into the sporting competitions – track and field, soccer, swimming, equestrian, whatever – to watch individuals execute their skill to the best of their abilities against the best in the world at the discipline, and to root unabashedly for their favorites. People want to associate with a winner whether or not they personally participate in a specific activity. Fans are fans regardless of race, language, economic position, or age. Everyone loves a winner.