I was never a good pool player. I couldn’t master the angles and my small motor skills are less than stellar. But I have watched lots of good pool players, and I’ve found some things they do that can help you be a better boss.
Good pool players are always realistic about the table. They know what’s possible and what’s not. Being realistic is a vital practice. But you must be optimistic about the future too, or your game will be too timid.
Jim Collins, in his amazing book, “Good to Great,” called something like this, “The Stockdale Principle.” The Rules of Pool start with the Stockdale Principle: You have to be realistic about your current situation and optimistic about the future. But the rules of pool go farther.
The great ones know what they do well. They don’t try shots that they can’t bring off. Instead, they use the skills and strengths they have in the context of the game. In business, we call that strategy.
But the most important thing you can learn from great pool players is that they don’t play for one shot at a time. Each shot sets up the next two or three.
When you’re a boss, you not only have to be realistic about the present and optimistic about the future, you have to be thinking two or three shots out. The move you make today should set up the move you’re going to make tomorrow. The decision you make today sets up a precedent that will affect how things work down the road.
Be like the great pool players. Have a clear idea of the situation you’re facing, master the basic skills, and always be playing to set up two or three shots ahead.