Appalachian State vs Michigan, just like You vs WalMart

Earlier today, #5 ranked Michigan strolled onto the field in the largest football stadium in the U.S. – their home field in Ann Arbor Michigan. I suspect they were planning to spend the afternoon stomping the crap out of little Appalachian State, a much smaller team from a much smaller school in North Carolina – but they may have forgotten that Appalachian is a school that is used to winning.

The Mountaineers had a little David in them, beating Michigan 34-32 after leading 28-17 at the half. At the end of the game, Appalachian State had the ball and a first down on the Michigan 6 yd line after the return of a blocked Michigan field goal with 6 seconds left. Unlike David, 1 lucky shot wouldn’t do the trick for Appalachian State. They had to perform consistently, returning to the field until the battle was done.

Before you think “What does that have to do with me, much less WalMart?”, look at the rest of Appalachian State’s season.

Appalachian State is current 2 time (2005, 2006) defending champion of Division I-AA college football (which is no longer called Div I-AA). They’ve now won a game against the #5 team in the country in a home game at that team’s stadium – the largest in the U.S.

Next week, they still have to play Hickory NC’s Lenoir-Rhyne (a 2008 US News and World Report “Best College”), who is probably not quite the powerhouse that Michigan is. The natural thing to do is just show up and assume that they’ll get their 16th win in a row, like Michigan might have done – or at least for 3 quarters.

Like Michigan, WalMart can just show up and win – but even they don’t do that. They measure everything, for example. That’s one of the reasons why I suggest you do the same – measure as many things as you can so that you can make good decisions about what to change – and do so quickly. More quickly than Wal-Mart.

The big difference between you and Wal-Mart is obviously size, just like Appalachian State and Michigan… As long as you pick your battles (price is NOT one of them), the combination of their size and your ability to move quicker than them (less meetings, less politics, less infrastructure) gives you an advantage.

If Appalachian State wins every game for the rest of the year, they will not be the NCAA Division I football champions. Does that mean their season won’t be a success? Hardly. The same goes for you.

While you can win certain battles against WalMart, but you probably won’t ever be bigger than they are, much less put your local store out of business. That simply isn’t important.

The thing to put out of your head is thinking you don’t win if WalMart (or the big box store / franchise in question) stays in business, or if they continue to sell what you sell, or if they still service what you service. That’s what Zig calls “stinking thinking”.

You win by prospering DESPITE them. Pick your battles, then be as nimble as Appalachian State. Or Angel Cabrera.