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Wanting Buy In Without Playing to Win? Think Again

group of people forming a circle by grasping thumbs

“Buy in” is a common issue that people make hard. We think there is some secret antidote, always searching for some clever trick that entices our team to “buy in.”


I dislike the saying “buy in.” It feels like something you purchase, convince, or coerce the team into doing. (Yuck.) To keep it simple, let’s instead say, play to win.


Playing to Win vs. Playing Not to Lose

Playing not to lose is covered in fear; it takes away the thrill of winning.


The time and focus spent worrying about the competition “winning” sends the message that there is a lack of faith in the team. This fearful thinking detracts from team enthusiasm and the, “why bother?” attitude slips in. Your team’s efforts get bogged down with the fear of defeat as a daily burden. They begin to focus on what isn’t working, and what the competition does better. With every difficult, incomplete task, the vision begins to fade and the finish line seems to get painfully further away.


When the team is inevitably second over the finish line—breathing the dust off the heels of the competition—they’re too deflated to realize that, unlike the competition, they just tried to run a marathon with leg weights. At that point, “buy in” becomes a foreign word, followed quickly by new job searches.


On the other hand, playing to win is a blast, and it can begin with you. You get to be the inspiration for the team keeping the vision alive:


  • Expressing your excitement and belief in the team is contagious, and it lets them know you believe they can win.

  • Getting to know everyone on the team—and giving them the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas—becomes a privilege. 

  • Encouraging the team to refocus on their why creates a strong sense of community, which ignites the purpose, drives the vision, and fuels determination to continue running the race.

  • Recognizing things that work is not only empowering but creates a positive energy and team culture. As I once heard someone say, “Bust them for everything they do well!”


It is important to measure and acknowledge both the big and small team wins along the way; it gives the team more fuel to take it over the finish line! I have come to find that “playing to win” in life makes the ride worthwhile, and team “buy in” becomes a given.

Tips for Playing to Win

Think of someone you gravitate to because they have a play to win attitude.

  • Identify what you see in them, and how they make you feel when you’re around them.

  • Find out what their “why” is, and how they keep the vision alive.

  • Ask yourself, “What is my why? What is my vision?”

  • Make a list of 10 things you do well, and how you inspire others.

  • List three things you could add to the 10 things you already do well that strengthen you as a playing to win leader.


I am often asked if I think it’s beneficial to know what the competition is doing. My answer?

“Sure, knowledge is always good, now let’s get back to raising our own bar and winning the race!”


Go raise your own bar and enroll others to join you in playing to win!

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