If You Can’t Outsmart, You Must Outbehave

If you can't outsmart outbehave

Illustration by Christian Laborin

Follow through, follow up, being considerate and thoughtful; these are the basics of relationships and business. Across the world there is a chronic problem with all of these critical relationship and business building activities, there isn’t a day that goes by where someone is not complaining about being ignored, treated like a commodity and just not having a pleasant experience with other people.

On my last post I explained how the bank that handles my business has a lenghty process for sending out an ATM card. Now, I’m sure the people who work for the bank are just as impatient as I am if they were in my shoes, but they have their wrists tied as employees.

This is the case for most businesses that operate with a busines-as-usual mindset. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t do something about it.

Like what?

Not making excuses.

For example, last weekend I was having lunch with family members at a very well known restaurant. Everything was great up until the moment we noticed that our respective orders were arriving one by one, and quite late one after the other. My uncle was pissed and gently pointed this out to our waiter, but the waiter didn’t like being put in the hot seat and promptly passed the blame to the kitchen staff.


Live your values

Now, this isn’t about being a good professional. It has nothing to do with being smarter than everyoene else. It’s about being a great person for yourself and the business you work for.

If that is how you act, making excuses and not being accountable, then that is how your company acts. That’s what people remember, whether you like it or not. Values, whether they’re made explicit or not, exist in every business. It’s how you conduct yourselves, how you treat people and how you treat each other. In most places, values are written but rarely lived.

There is a scene in the movie Patch Adams where Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character, the one who is focused on being smarter than everyone else, tells Patch Adams that “he can’t get” a particular patient to eat:

This is what living your values looks like. Patch Adams philosophy is to cure people through laughter, which makes patients forget their troubles; and they all love him for it.

Outbehave the competition

For smart, innovative companies business as usual is the enemy; they aim to exceed expectations by living their values. For example, startups outthink and outexecute incumbents, but they don’t win by just working harder; but by working harder at the things that matter: caring and giving more.

Values are the soft stuff nobody likes to talk about because it’s all mushy, but it’s also the part that people remember. It’s the stuff that can’t be automated to robots and chatbots. It’s the stuff that makes customers feel understood and taken care of; it’s the glue that sticks.

Your company probably doesn’t have the brightest minds in the world, but you can still be present, pay attention and take care of customers. It’s the low hanging fruit and nobody has a monopoly on being a great human.

Remember, treat others as you want to be treated. Imagine yourself on the other side, wouldn’t you like to be taken care of? Be surprised and awed? That’s how everyone would like to feel too.

Bottom line: Products, services, processes, they can all be copied and always are. So, if you can’t outsmart, you must outbehave: care more, give more, love more, listen more, hustle more.