I once read a book about the life of George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars.
Being a Star Wars fan, I thought I knew a lot about the making of the franchise, but I learned some new golden nuggets and got a shot of motivation and energy from listening to it.
One thing that I took away from it was how Lucas always played to win.
When negotiating the contract for Star Wars with the studio, he was coming off the success of “American Graffiti” and could have forced them to pay 10x what he asked for (given the hot streak that he was on).
But Lucas gambled and told them that he’d keep his price tag low, as long as he could have all merchandising profits from Star Wars.
In hindsight this looks like an obvious bet, but Star Wars was far from a guaranteed success (most thought it was silly and would flop). Back then toys and merchandise weren’t a big deal like they are today, so negotiating for them didn’t seem smart.
The studio gave Lucas his way, and thought they pulled a fast one on the director since they were paying him just peanuts for his services.
Little did they know that Star Wars would end up making even more money on merchandise than the actual movies, and they lost a billion dollars to Lucas in that negotiation.
Lucas had to think big again a few years later, when planning the Star Wars sequel – “The Empire Strikes Back”. Determined to keep creative control (and profits) away from the studio, he bankrolled it with his money from the first Star Wars film. This was a bold, risky move that almost backfired but he managed to somehow keep things on the rails and emerge unscathed (and much richer) after the success of Empire.
Lucas has been successful because he plays to win. He doesn’t play not to lose, like so many do. In his book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, Maxwell Maltz talks about the distinction between the two:
“You can’t win by playing not to lose. In fact, playing not to lose only serves to manufacture and magnify stress, thus increasing the likelihood of making mistakes, not vice versa”
Or like the famous saying goes: “The best defense is a good offense”
If you’re a coach who likes to play to win (and you like Star Wars), you’d be a great fit for my “Coach Sprint” program.
The next one opens up in a few weeks, hop in your Millennium Falcon and fly over here: