Benchmark yourself

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Julian Agostini, Mash Media MD on the key to self-improvement and being a winner.

 

While popping in to the mother-in-law’s flat the other day to take her out for lunch, Liz and I were instructed to wait, while she finished off the supposedly dramatic finale to some soap episode.


Like many of us who watch TV or movies, she must have watched the same scene before, countless of times in slightly different guises: a guy comes home unexpectedly to find his wife in the clutches of another and then proceeds to beat up ‘the other guy’ while the wife cries.
Then one or both exclaim emotionally: “I just want you to love me”.


I can’t pretend that the scene particularly grabbed me, but I do have an issue with it.


I’ve never understood that reaction from men or women when faced with their partner being unfaithful. The target of much of their anger and frustration always seems to be the third party – that surely isn’t where the problem lies? Let’s face it; if it weren’t this other guy, there would be another at some point.


Asking someone to love you is also a futile exercise, surely? It’s the trait of people who believe that their happiness rests in the hands of somebody else or, rather, their unhappiness is someone else’s responsibility.


When things go wrong, it’s a normal reaction that no one particularly enjoys self-analysis.


For example, as children many of us were terrible losers. Tennis rackets thrown across the court or Monopoly boards up in the air were not unfamiliar scenes and they were followed by a need to blame everybody and everything else.


Even cheating in the game would be suggested before any reflection on our own performance – all ridiculous and embarrassing in retrospect, as the blame game hampers improvement if we are not prepared to accept any blame ourselves.


This is the anomaly in many ways. Competition is the perfect platform to raise standards but only if we embrace it. If failing to win any situation is always filed under any of unlucky, unjustified, unfair etc., then we cannot possibly step forward as a result of the experience.
We want to improve, of course, but we’d rather avoid the pain or humiliation of defeat along the way – unfortunately for most of us mere mortals, those two things go hand in hand.


By the time you read this, the EN Awards will be nothing more than a hangover, and various gongs will be adorning many a mantelpiece or office cabinet around the country. It’s all too easy for the runners up and beyond to blame the judges, the process or anything else that prevented their win, but surely that’s the view of long-time losers?


Awards are a great example of competition that improves performance. I know that there are many clamours around all industries for there to be less award ceremonies but as a competitive man, I can’t agree with that. It’s a fantastic opportunity to focus your efforts, benchmark yourself against your peers and strive to step forward. If taken seriously, the only result can be self-improvement.


Our industry has moved at a considerable rate over the last fifteen years and the UK continues to lead the way in innovation with regards events. Awards help to play their small part in this upward curve. We learn from each other’s successes and failures and that allows the whole industry to improve.


If you want standards to be raised in any walk of life, one of the best and quickest ways to achieve this is to set a competition.


Everybody wants to win a prize on merit and once it’s achieved, it is with you for life. It’s an unforgettable moment. Anyone who tells you that they don’t want this is merely protecting themselves from possible failure because the rush and pride from winning a competition are second to none. The recent EN Awards will give testimony to this.


Interestingly our successes are very much our fault. Yes we thank the world and its mother (and of course, our mother) but inwardly this win is down to our own performance. None of the cheating, luck, judging etc. mentioned in defeat are ever in play should we win of course, and rightly so because these are just figments and excuses.


So I salute the winners, enjoy your time at the top, you have deserved it. For the rest of us, it’s not for me to moan, it’s time to train and make sure we’re in the mix for the next one.

Julian Agostini
Posted by Julian Agostini
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