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A Little Toe Much

Optimize Blog - June 29, 2011 - 0 comments

A pub in Derbyshire, England has hosted the 35th “World Toe Wrestling Championship”. Open to male and female competitors, the protagonists took off their socks at the Bentley Brook Inn in Fenny Bentley to compete in an event that was originally devised by Staffordshire landlord George Burgess in 1976 in an attempt to find a new sport.
Matches involve players locking big toes to try to force their opponent’s digit to the floor over three rounds. This year saw Burton’s Paul Beech, otherwise known as ‘Predatoe’, take the men’s title while Lisa ‘Twinkletoes’ Shenton, from Ashbourne, clinched the female title.
This is a serious business. All stimulants are banned – with the exception of alcohol of course – and players start each match competing with their right foot, then they change to their left foot for the second round and if a deciding round is needed, they swap back to their right.
The game is very much based on the more traditional sport of arm wrestling – a usually testosterone filled pursuit where bragging rights await the winner.
Toe wrestling or arm wresting can be used as a metaphor for some of the tussles we witness regularly at the board room table and throughout client businesses with who we work. Sometime these moments of combat are overt and at others times they can be quite subtle. However, one of our favourite sayings is that “business is a contact sport” and arm wrestling metaphorically speaking should abound in a progressive company where relationships are based on trust.
Trust needs to be present or else the challenge by a colleague will be viewed suspiciously as if some other agenda exists. But sparring where trust exists can be a very powerful and liberating force within business. If we all acquiesce to each other’s requests and needs, our ability to make effective decisions is limited – we all charge over the cliff as one!
However, where mature relationships exist that are founded on trust, challenge in the work place enables someone to point out that it’s a cliff and that jumping over it might not end terribly well…..
Leaders have lots of tools for getting what they want out of their people, most of which fall into two categories: sticks and carrots. But to inspire employees to actually care, managers should judiciously put their own trust to use. One of the fastest ways to be trusted is to take the first step by trusting others and to focus on being trustworthy.
If you can trust and can be trusted then the wrestling matches that you get involved in daily take on a whole new relevance. Sure, there will always be individuals that ‘cannot be trusted’ but what are you doing today to try and win that trust and change the situation to create a meaningful and productive working relationship?
In case you were up for a challenge, ‘Predatoe’ AKA Paul Beech, who has won the toe wrestling event seven times, said he would be back to defend his title at next year’s competition.

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