Being a loser requires just as much effort as being a winner. You must work at it as hard as the person who wants to be No. 1. Are you a winner-or a loser? Just like winners, losers develop a pattern of ``success.''
Here are the guidelines-the Loser's Ten Commandments.
1) Always have an excuse. Develop a series of phrases and rehearse them regularly so you'll always have one ready when needed. Examples: ``My car wouldn't start''; ``Our prices are too high''; ``I can't get through to him on the phone''; ``The computer fouled up''; ``The whole economy is bad''; and so forth.
Never be caught speechless when it comes to making excuses for yourself.
2) Be sure to blend into the pack. Losers know it's important to be invisible. Vanilla is their favorite flavor. Never call attention to yourself. Look, act and work the way you really are-mediocre.
3) Keep your eye on the competition. Think and breathe the competition. Know all about them-their weaknesses, their opportunities, their problems and their needs. Never think about your customers.
4) Avoid taking risks at all cost. Risk-taking is extremely dangerous. You may either fail or succeed. Either one will put you in great jeopardy.
Risk-takers lead the pack by always wanting to test themselves. They're never satisfied with their performance-they want to do better. They welcome risks as opportunities. Such thinking makes you shudder.
5) Never let yourself become enthusiastic. If you do, you will want to do more, become more deeply involved in your work and place your company, co-workers and customers ahead of yourself.
6) Always put yourself first. Before you agree to anything, ask yourself this question: ``What's in it for me?''
If something requires extra time and effort, it could lead to more sales, increased productivity and higher profits for your company. Thus, by putting yourself first, all these problems are avoided.
7) If something goes wrong, blame someone. This is very important. Taking responsibility causes difficulties. So make sure you always have someone in mind to blame when a problem arises. Taking responsibility only makes you more valuable. You may even come to be viewed as a leader.
8) Spend a lot of time second-guessing the boss. This is your real job-and it's a top priority. By never showing any initiative, you are guaranteed a permanent position-at the bottom of the ladder.
9) Never learn anything new. Knowledge is dangerous! It means you will become a problem-solver.
If this happens, customers will come to view you as essential to their success and your company will give you regular promotions.
10) If all else fails, say ``I don't know.'' The less you know, the better off you are. Whenever you're asked a question, just say, ``I don't know.'' You will quickly become exactly what you are-useless.
By the way, it's easy to become a winner. All you have to do is go to work and break these Ten Commandments.
Mr. Graham is president of Graham Communications, a marketing services and sales consulting firm in Quincy, Mass.