By Stu King, CEO of Beezee Bodies
Losing Still Hurts
I was lucky enough to be a runner up in the Herts business awards last night for the coveted award of ‘Business Person of the Year’. I really didn’t look into how massive and event it was before the night and so had no idea quite how hard it would have been to win. I don’t know what Lintbells are doing, but whatever it is they must be doing it well as they won 4 awards last night including their CEO as business person of the year. Warm congratulations to them as they were roundly recognised as the best business in Herts this year.
But I want to talk about the value of losing for someone who, it turns out, still doesn’t like to lose! I have always been competitive and have been sent to my room numerous times for turning the monopoly board over when I was losing as a kid. I thought that now I am older and (supposedly) wiser, winning wouldn’t be as important to me, but it was surprisingly uncomfortable not to have won.
I have been pretty lucky
I can be pretty blasé about things sometimes and these awards were no different. I have had some great things happen to me and, in the grand scheme of things, if I have been up for something like an award, contract or job, I have generally been lucky to get them in past. Despite half thinking this would be different, I also had a feeling this might go the same way.
However, it didn’t. And I got a dose of my involuntary reaction that my brain automatically takes in a situation like this… it becomes hyper judgemental and critical. I looked at the winners and saw that I should have talked about turnover and growth in my interview if I really wanted to win.
My brain isn’t my friend in situations like this and all I could think of is how it feels to tell people you lost. I lay there in the night last night ruminating on ‘growth at all costs’, how to make more profit from current contracts and how to increase turnover… maybe I really did want to be businessman of the year and didn’t realise how much?
But after thinking whilst awake at 4am about all these things, I remembered that I didn’t ever even really want to be ‘in business’. I wanted to run our programmes to help people make changes that were sustained for long periods of time and really changed their lives. I wanted people to become healthier and happier, and to feel empowered to make changes in the future too.
It quickly dawned on me that I do want growth, but not growth at all costs or growth purely for profit. The truth is that the profit, like winning the award last night, would only be an ego boost. Profit is just an opportunity to reinvest in our people and our services.
Having read the lovely things that were written about me to get to final of the awards, I became clearer to me why I still love getting up and going to work. I love what we do! Not to sound too clichéd, but that is a great place to be.
Growth for us must come from delivering more of our values. More innovation, more passion, more courage, empowerment and passion. In not too long a time moping about the natural disappointment of losing, I actually feel great about getting to the final amongst such great people all whilst doing something that matters to me, and having fun whilst doing it.
Having fun whilst doing meaningful work
This is the thing I love most. I am able, with Helen, to provide people with a chance to do meaningful work and have fun whilst doing it. It was always one of my key aims. Being good at business or winning awards was never important to me. And I realised that it probably won’t be a big part of our future. To win awards I think you have to really specifically fit a brief for the award. Our work is meaningful because it’s hard, hard to help groups of individuals make individual level change to that work in their real lives, without just giving them a generic plan to stick to. Changing habits is tough. But we do it, well.
We aren’t going to win loads of awards, and that’s cool!
Working holistically with people, like we do, is probably never going to win awards because it crosses too many boundaries, into education, relationships, employment, physical and mental health and wellbeing, all of which require great behaviour change science combined with personability and compassion. And that’s ok. Because that is not why we do this in the first place. It was lovely to hear the reasons I was nominated, ironically, with the fortunate hindsight of having lost in the final, I have probably gained more in terms of reaffirming why I get up every day. If I had won, I may have got caught up in the wrong stuff. In a weird way, I feel richer for the process of losing than of winning (sounds like post-event rationalisation when writing it down, but it’s really true).
So, thanks Hertfordshire Business Awards for a great evening and for accepting me into the final. It did help me reaffirm my sense of pride and fortune about being in business with such great teams and doing things that matter.