The Game of Inches
Remember that speech from the movie ‘Any Given Sunday’ about the game of inches? If you don’t, it went a little something like this:
“Life is a game of inches. And the margin for error is so small. One-half step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it…. These inches we need are everywhere around us…We fight for that inch. And when you add up all those inches, it’s the difference between winning or losing, between living and dying. Fighting for those inches, that’s what life is.”
The Game of Inches in Real Life
While the context of the movie is sports, it is really all about life, and fighting for the life of the 1% more that makes a difference! Success is the culmination of inches, and grasping, fighting for that extra inch, that extra step, that extra 1%! This is what deep performance is about in its most basic form! And it is why as fighter pilots, we value briefing and debriefing so highly because we know that it is the brief where we lay out the inches we need to cover, in the debrief we evaluate how well we covered those inches, and what we could do better to cover more next time!
This very narrow margin is what separates the mediocre from the elite! Successful people do not wait for opportunities to come to them, they actively seek their next opportunity, and they chase their next win! Success doesn’t pick its winners and it is not selective, people that succeed know what they want, and they chase it until it is theirs.
It can be easy for people to assume that because they haven’t been successful before, it means that they will never be successful and therefore they don’t try. But if you really think about it, we all start at the beginning, we all face hurdles and obstacles in our way, but it is the attitude that determines just how far they get! Believe me, everyone can create success, it is all about the game of inches.
The Game of Inches: Briefing and Debriefing
I touched on this earlier, briefing and debriefing, but I want to dig deeper into it. I am going to take you into the world of a fighter pilot for a moment, so bear with me! When lives are on the line as fighter pilots, the mission is our focus. We start with planning the mission, and once we have our plan, we brief the plan. It is here in the briefing where we lay out the inches that must be covered.
We brief the plan, and then fly the brief, and we would no more fly a mission without a brief, than go to work naked…seriously! The brief is everything! The inches are laid out, the goals are put in place, the roles for chasing these inches are given, and we are ready to fly the brief. So, we go and chase inches, and trust me, every inch in this game is invaluable! After we have flown the brief, chased the inches, and done everything we can to carry out the mission, then comes the debrief.
The debrief holds the same amount of value as the brief! In the debrief, it is an honest conversation about what we did to create that success and how we can replicate it to win each mission in the future, but also about where we gave up ground, where we lost inches, and what weaknesses occurred during the mission. It is important to note – this is not a time for people to feel shame over mistakes, it is working out in an honest manner how we will bridge the gap next time. Briefing and debriefing don’t only exist in the fighter pilot world, it is an incredible process that all businesses should implement if they want to chase those inches and find success!
Getting that Next Inch
That inch, that 1% increase, that extra step really matters, but what can we do to ensure we’re on the right track in the game of inches? First and foremost, reconnect to your why! Being stuck in a space of meaninglessness creates an unproductive person, and so it is essential you are deeply connected to your why! Your why is what drives, motivates and connects you to the work you do, it is the reason you get up every day and chase those extra inches! The beginning of reconnecting to your why is asking some simple questions like, ‘what is the impact I want to have through what I do?’, ‘am I on the right path to doing what I love most?’, ‘where do I want to be in 5 years? Am I on the right track for that reality?’.
In the game of inches, it is essential that you set goals, and goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART Goals). Goals can be short-term or long-term depending on what it is you are wanting to achieve. But goals are a non-negotiable of deep performance and life in general! Without them, we have no direction and no drive towards a larger purpose. Make goals that motivate you because there is no point in having goals that make you dread achieving them.
Finally, create space for the unexpected. Okay, we should all know by now, that life just doesn’t always follow our 5-year plan or our to-do list, and that is simply the way the cookie crumbles. What will not help us along the way is creating such rigid timelines, to-do lists and plans, that there is no room for changes, unexpected things, and obstacles! Always ensure that you have support in place for change, big and small, and never think you are immune to obstacles. Create space for the unexpected!
What is Your Next Inch?
That next inch could be the difference between not reaching the finish line or success! Take the game of inches seriously, because that 1% could be the step you needed, for the life you have always wanted! What is your next inch?
If you want more information on briefing and debriefing, and implementing it into business, click ‘here’ to find out more!
Hey! You're Biased! – #6 Confirmation Bias
I think we’ve all heard of this one, but that is because it affects the human psyche incredibly, and none of us is immune! Confirmation bias is the way that we interpret information to confirm the beliefs we already have. Notice the word ‘interpret’… it is not internalising the information on a factual basis, it is taking the information, twisting it to make it fit into the beliefs we have, and then calling that fact! Let’s get unbiased by asking ourselves factual questions about the information at hand, ‘Is this true or am I twisting it to confirm something I already believe?’.
Boone, A. (n.d.). Set smart goals for better presentation. Ethos 3. https://ethos3.com/set-smart-goals-for-better-presentations/
Conner, R. (2018). 3 ways to reconnect with your why. Work Monger. https://workmonger.com/3-ways-to-reconnect-with-your-why/
Johnson, M. (n.d.). Life is a game of inches. Ethos 3. https://ethos3.com/life-is-a-game-of-inches/
Johnson, M. (n.d.). Reconnecting to your why. Ethos 3. https://ethos3.com/reconnecting-to-your-why/
Murphy, K. (2015). The game of inches and the life worth living. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/game-inches-life-worth-living-kathleen-murphy/