He’s feeling strong and is sweeping about the ring while his opponents legs look as though they could crumble at any moment.
“Keep doing what you’re doing” is the steady chant from his corner.
He’s dealt with the combinations which arrived in the variations anticipated by his coaches, and he’s picked him off at the right moments in every round. He’s comfortably ahead on points according to the commentators, then… Darkness
The Forgotten Arm
In 2005 Aimee Mann, an American singer/songwriter released “The Forgotten Arm” – an album that chronicled the events of a pair of drug-addled losers who eloped to escape their calamity-ridden lives only for things to get a lot worse. The title comes from boxing, and it refers to the underuse of one arm as a decoy only for the other to knock out the opponent, which comes as a surprise to him but maybe not the audience.
For an example of a shock knockout see Juan Manuel Marquez dropping Manny Pacquaio in the last second of the sixth round of their fourth and final match on December 8th, 2012. It’s not for the squeamish.
Over the years I’ve heard people speak of this phenomenon but at a considerable remove from the boxing ring. Their concerns refer to the more mundane human conditions of love and business. As I’m not a relationship councillor I’m going to stick to business.
In business the knockout blow tends to arrive when you either get a letter or a phone call from a client informing you that you’ve lost a contract that you expected to retain. Though the ground doesn’t give way under your feet, it feels like it actually has as you physically react to the potential loss of credibility as well as that bonus that was going to justify your investment in a flash new car.
The shock can take days to subside before you decide to look at what actually happened. From the outside it may look as though you were busy building a good relationship, delivering according to your mandate and satisfying your customer. Losing a contract usually comes down to complacency. You were tranquilised into believing that the customer was happy – at least that’s what they told you – and offered exactly more of the same when the renewal came around. While you were delivering one of your competitors was working away in the background, outflanked you and delivered a knockout blow. This happens all the time as only one in every three incumbents win rebids in Ireland.
Listening to Your Customer
The knowledge that you, yes even you in all your brilliance, can be blindsided by a competitor means that you should always be sceptical about what you’re hearing from your client. But its’ how you listen that is key here. Are you listening for what you want to hear or are you listening to genuine concerns and possibilities? Renewing a contract means a lot more than offering up the predictable same old, same old. It may be what you want to hear but the chances are that the client is more interested in “refreshing” it. So start from there.