Don't ask me how I know this, but there's a wrestling term 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.

But the wrestlers themselves dramatically impact how the crowd perceives a competitor. Say you and I face each other in a match, and the plan is for you to beat me. If you dominate me, shrug aside my feeble attacks as a nuisance, and emerge victorious without breaking a sweat, the crowd will naturally assume I'm a terrible wrestler. If you "sell" my punches, kicks, and holds, making it seem like I've inflicted real damage, and in the end barely pull out a victory, the crowd will naturally assume I'm a great wrestler.

And, of course, you're even greater.

But back to me. In wrestling terms, you can "put me over": You can, through words and actions, show others I am skilled, capable, and deserving of respect--and of course you get to bask in my reflected glory.

That's what Undertaker did. (So did his opponent, Roman Reigns.) That's what Goldberg did, and so did Brock Lesnar. That's what John Cena always does. Great wrestlers tell stories through action, and often one of those stories is to sell their opponent's skill.

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 can be a hard habit to break.

But it can be done. It should be done. Many of your employees and customers deserve to be "put over." It's easy; for example:

  • Instead of you leading an implementation meeting, turn it over to the employee who spearheaded the project. Don't be tempted to somehow include yourself in the introduction; just say, "Next week we're rolling out our new admin system, so Jason will walk you through the process. Jason?" Everyone already knows you're in charge; the fact your employees get things done reflects well on you.
  • Instead of blogging about your company's success, talk about a customer, but don't make it "salesy." If a customer has done something smart, share it. If a customer has taken a different approach to an old problem, share it. Don't write, "Wow, this is awesome," posts. Write, "Wow, this is really useful," posts. Put your customers over and the fact you work with such smart, savvy people reflects well on you.

Next time, put one of your employees over. They win.

And so do you.

Published on: Apr 6, 2017
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