There’s a professional wrestling term—please don’t ask me how I know this—that you should apply to your business.
Pro wrestling is scripted and the outcomes of matches are pre-determined, so in large part the writers control how spectators perceive individual wrestlers: If I beat you, I must be better. If I become the champion—even though I’m only the champion because a writer decided I should be champion—I must be the best.
Plus the wrestlers themselves dramatically impact how the crowd perceives a competitor. Say you and I are wrestling and the plan is for me to beat you. If I dominate you, shrug aside your feeble attacks as a nuisance, and emerge victorious without breaking a sweat, the crowd will naturally assume you’re a terrible wrestler. If I “sell” your punches, kicks, and holds, make it seem like you’ve inflicted real damage, and in the end barely pull out a victory, the crowd will naturally assume you’re a great wrestler.
In wrestling terms I can “put you over”: I can, through words and actions, show others you are skilled, capable, and deserving of respect—and bask in your reflected glory.
You have the same power with your employees and customers, but it’s easy to lose sight of that ability when your primary focus is on crafting a professional image, building a personal brand, or just protecting your turf. Entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable to hogging the glory, since early on a small business is a reflection of its owner and its success often depends on the owner’s skill at building a reputation for knowledge and expertise. Once learned, standing in the spotlight is a really hard habit to break.
But it can be done. Many of your employees and customers deserve to be “put over.” It’s easy; for example:
Next time, put someone else over. They win—and so do you.