For several years, teams in the SEC conference in NCAA football had adhered to a “war of attrition” game strategy: they called conservative plays and held on the ball for as long as they could. They relied on talent to carry them, but mainly implemented a traditional ball-control, rush-oriented “smash mouth” football strategy. When Steve Spurrier became the head coach of the Florida Gators, he introduced his highly pass-oriented offense (known in sports media as the “Fun n’ Gun”), his innovative offensive schemes disrupted the conference, and as a result, his Gators accomplished a number of memorable feats during his twelve seasons as head coach.

Trying to avoid potential losses forced other coaches to adopt Spurrier’s model, however, their commitment to what they’d been doing for years made them unable to react to Spurrier’s superior strategy.

He who hesitates is lost

We’ve all experienced the pervasive pull of commitment in some form or another; whether investing our time and/or money in a particular project/business or pouring all of our energy into a doomed relationship, it’s difficult to let go even when things clearly aren’t working. As difficult as it can be to admit defeat, staying the course simply because of past commitment hurts you even more in the long run. Never become committed to the strategy of playing not to lose, because the deeper the hole you dig yourself into, the more you will continue to dig.

Nobody likes to fail, and I’m certainly not advocating it as a strategy. But just about anyone you can think of who’s a huge success today, in any field from business to politics to sports has overcome failure to get there.

Fear of failure should not paralyze you. Always play to win.