The Scoreboard Is Also the Shameboard

Photo by  Joe Cavasos

Photo by Joe Cavasos

You've seen this a thousand times. A football player on the losing team makes a highlight reel worthy play against a player on the winning team. Does the current "winner" acknowledge the "loser's" skill or ability?

Nope. Doesn't matter.


Competition can bring out the best in some people. Motivation to win, accomplish, succeed, grow--all noble things. It asks for grit. Many times it brings out the worst, especially when you're on the same team.

Let's say you're shooting out a company wide email of your sales team's numbers. Thomas in accounting has sent you a nice neat report with each reps' numbers for December for you to send out. Jim, who sold $10,000 more than any other rep, gets congratulated in the header of the email, just above the report.

Seems all well and good, right? Let's recognize the top dog for a job well done (a look at the scoreboard). He's helping grow the business.

I might be worried about Jim's ego (thanks Ricky Bobby), but I'm more concerned about Frank and Ellen. For two reasons:

First, Since everyone can see that Frank is dead last, avoiding shame has now become his main motivator to get sales up. Instead of working hard to help you make the change you're wanting to see in the world, he's now pulling overtime to remove the dunce cap your congratulatory email put on his head.

Second, Ellen, who was dead last in November, has now let off the gas. She doesn't mind not being first now that she's passed the dunce cap. And now she only has to perform well enough to keep it off her head. You've just written her a permission slip for mediocrity.

The sting of a Super Bowl loss isn't felt by just the kicker who blew the go ahead field goal. The whole team owns up to it--and no amount of shame can change that scoreboard.

How have you had to put on the dunce cap?

Michael Curtis

A mastering engineer and composer who loves helping you sound awesome.