Monday, July 20, 2009

The Snowball- Inner Vs. Outer Scorecard

I’m currently reading a book about Warren Buffet. It’s extremely interesting to study someone that is very successful at what they do. You try and pick up personality traits or ideas that translate to success. Something that Buffet stresses is the idea of an inner scorecard vs an outer scorecard.

Essentially the idea is that if you follow an inner scorecard you measure yourself against your best. An outer scorecard would be measuring yourself against everyone else. There are several problem with the outer scorecard mentality. It limits you to what everyone else in your realm is doing. This can hamper your success. If you compare yourself to someone else you ultimately limit yourself to being just slightly better. In work you just have to perform better then someone else at your level to not be fired. You just need to run slightly faster or do one more rep to get the starting job. What about when you leave your realm. Are you as well prepared as you should be or could be? Everyone is blessed with different talents and skill sets. We can’t nor should we want to be better than someone in all aspects. Utilizing an outer scorecard can often hamper us from our goals when we see someone extremely skilled and feel inadequate. When you study great people who truly dominated their field Michael Jordan, Warren Buffet, John Wooden; they broke the mold of what we thought success and dominance were. If you asked society if there would ever be someone that reached their pinnacle of success. The answer would be: "No, no one does that". All great individuals pushed themselves to perform at their best and never let society measure their success. Coincidentally, they achieved levels of success that no one thought possible.

The competitor to be feared the most is the one who never worries about others at all and goes on making himself better all the time.
-Blake Griffin

This sums up what having an inner scorecard is all about. If you don’t know who Blake Griffin is he was the first round pick in the NBA draft. This guy is going to be fantastic because although he is already the best rookie in the league he isn’t satisfied. He sees ways to get better. Most rookies who are guaranteed a high draft pick take the summer before their summer league season lightly. Heck they just got several million dollars time to party it up. Here’s how Griffin spent his summer . He took part in a workout regiment that roughly 30% of people stick with for more than 2 days. The man has millions and is already the best rookie in the NBA, and he’s not satisfied.

If you follow an inner scorecard then you measure yourself against your best. Are you working as hard as you can? Are you pushing yourself to your limit? This really hit home for me because I’ve grown up on an outer scorecard. If I needed to get the bare minimum done to reach my goal, then that’s the extent of the effort I would put forth. The person who ultimately suffers is me. No one is going to make me successful. I often find myself doing what’s required rather then doing my very best. I’ve had written on my goal board for a little over a week to “pursue excellence”. I must admit I’m not perfect. I can’t say that the change is dramatic, but everyday I read that phrase and try and practice it. It’s a process to change my mentality and it won’t happen overnight. Slowly I’m becoming aware of what doing my best requires of me. What mindset I need to maintain to achieve a high level of productivity and success. Are there areas of your life where you do the bare minimum?

I am planning on teaching junior high guys this fall at church and I read the book Do Hard Things in preparation. One of the blessings of teaching is that very often you tend to grow as much or more than your students. And even in my preparation I have found this to be true. The premise of the book is that teenagers are expected to underperform and underdeliver by our society. Teenagers aren’t required to do much of anything. So that’s what they do. The book encourages teenagers to break their mold and Do Hard Things. Take Zac for example who left at age 16 to travel around the world at 6 knots (about 7mph). The authors of the book interned at the Alabama Supreme Court as highschool students. A job normally reserved for law grads. George Washington became the chief surveyor of Virginia at age 17. The book is filled with countless examples.

Is the message not the same though? If teenagers use an outer scorecard to measure themselves society doesn’t expect much. Going home and playing video games, doing a few chores is the status quo. Heck you pull down a decent GPA in college and highschool and you’re ahead of the curve. To be great you have to push yourself beyond your limits. Easier said then done. I’m not there yet, but I slowly get closer to my goal; I see the prize. Pursue Excellence


  1. what alot of rubbish , hes obviously talking about doing things for yourself and not be materialistic(inner scorecard) or doing things to show off with expensive things (outer scorecard)

  2. I think that is part of it. His main idea outlined further in the book is that if you measure yourself against everyone else you stop at the point you are the best in your peer group. If you use the inner scorecard system you just do the best you can.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Excellent summing-up on inner and outer scorecards. I was looking for the info about it and thanks a lot!