Goeido’s perfect sumo tournament: when talent and consistency converge

September 25, 2016

goeido-yusho-sep16For the niche segment of entrepreneurially inclined readers of this blog who also appreciate sumo, the latest tournament that ended today in Tokyo offers some relevant lessons.

Winner of this tournament’s yūshō, a 30-year old ōzeki from Osaka named Goeido demonstrated a flawless 15 – 0 performance. I extend my sincere congratulations to Goeido for finding his rhythm and delivering an awesome performance! This milestone also represents a victory for Osaka (first since 1930), for Japanese wrestlers (second in 10 years), and for the whole ōzeki rank (who have collectively impressed over the past 7 tournaments).

I always liked Goeido indirectly for his role as spoiler in numerous tournaments. Goeido often cleared the way for my favorite rikishi (yokozuna Harumafuji) to win by defeating the nearly invincible yokozuna Hakuho in key matches. However, of the four sumo wrestlers currently holding the #2 rank of ōzeki (second only to the three yokozuna, or grand champions), Goeido always struck me as least likely to win a championship. I was usually dismissive of goeido for one essential reason: inconsistency.

Goeido had never left us doubting his potential. Just as he often spoiled Hakuho, Goeido seemed to be able to conquer just the right opponent, whatever his rank, just when it mattered most. Yet his failure to compete consistently weaved him on and off the precarious kadoban status (threat of demotion from a losing record).

The importance of consistency extends more broadly to many areas of business: especially to entrepreneurship. I have the honor of working with a lot of high-caliber startup teams. All possess deep talent in their respective domains. High potential is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for scaling a startup successfully. Luck and market timing play a role of course. But among the factors one can control, delivering consistency is probably the most crucial, I submit. Building a business often entails accomplishing the basics, day in and day out, in a diligent and persistent manner.

When talent and consistency meet, look out; you’re unstoppable. Deep bow to Goeido-san, who demonstrated exactly that today.

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posted in sumo by mark bivens

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