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A Little Toe Much

Optimize Blog - February 12, 2018 - 0 comments

A pub in Derbyshire has hosted the latest “World Toe Wrestling Championship” which has now been going on for more than 40 years. Open to male and female competitors, the event was originally devised by Staffordshire landlord George Burgess in 1976 when a group of walkers at the Ye Olde Royal Oak Inn in the village of Wetton set about searching for a game that only the British could win. With a lack of any talent in existing sports, the decision was made to invent a new one and the weird event has been an annual highlight ever since.
The sport is much like thumb wrestling or arm wrestling, only with your toes. Competitors lie on the floor opposite each other, and interlock their big toes in between two small planks. Whoever manages to wrest their opponent’s foot to touch a nearby panel wins a point.
In the men’s final current World champion Alan ‘Nasty’ Nash out-toed ‘Doc Toe Scholl’ to claim his 14th world title, his 6th win in succession. He first won the event in 1994.
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.
A podiatrist is on hand for toe inspections prior to the competition. Contestants must have their toes thoroughly examined for signs of fungus and injury before being given clearance to compete.
Toe wrestling 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. Sometimes 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 toe 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, Nash, 55, hopes to retire sometime soon, but only when he finds a worthy successor. He said he would be back to defend his title in 2018…….

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