What Makes A Winner?
August 16, 2016
The summer Olympics serves as a reminder about what it takes to be a winner. The years of discipline, effort and perseverance all coming together in one moment. Everyone motivated by the same singular goal - to win! To be the undisputed best at something. To feel the weight of that gold medal around your neck. It's a grueling journey, but the hope is that winning makes it all worthwhile.
"Winning is not everything; it is the only thing!" Those were the words spoken by Vince Lombardi, the former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, who led the team to five NFL championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls. It's fair to say he knew a thing or two about winning! Michael Jordan said, "I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win." I suppose someone who is regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time knows a little about winning! Love him or hate him, Donald Trump had this to say about winning; "The thing that separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate." Winning is an attitude. It is a cloak of self-confidence, optimism and persistence that wraps itself around some people. We all want to wear that cloak. We all strive to be the best we can be. We have a hard wired desire to be at the top of our game (whatever that game maybe). We want to win!
There is something magnetic about winners; they possess qualities that grab our attention and pull us toward them. Spotting a winner isn't difficult; they stand out in a crowd. Always! But why is that? What makes them stand out? The answer is simple: They choose to think and act differently to those around them. Their mindset, attitude and behaviors contrast those of their opponents. Winners don't settle for ordinary; they aim to be extraordinary. And you can to!
The first time I came across Donald Trump's quote, "The thing that separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate," the gap between being a winner and a loser had never been more obvious to me. I could clearly see what it was that separated those who achieved their dreams and those who came up short. We need to understand that life is going to present unexpected curveballs but it was how we choose to respond to those situations that will ultimately determine our chances of winning or losing. In life those curveballs, or twists as Trump describes them, can be big or small. They are the unexpected events in our life. You can't avoid them, but you can decide how you respond to them. It is in those moments that we determine our chances for success. Winning is therefore a choice. You have to choose to be a winner. It is not enough to simply want to be a winner, but instead you must make a conscious decision that you will be a winner. Winning is in our - and only our - control.
It doesn't matter whether you seek to win in sport or business (or anything else) choosing to be a winner means you have to commit to thinking and behaving in a different way. Winners are distinct in how they approach the game:
Winners focus on the present and the future. They understand that we live in this very moment. They have no control over what has already happened; the past is history and there is no point dwelling on what has or may have been. Winners don't waste their energy on things that can't be changed. They choose to learn from their past - the highs and the lows - and channel those insights into what they're doing now and aspire to do next. Winners focus on what they want to create and how they will make it happen. They look forward not backward.
Winners take action. Winners are always in motion. They are constantly moving toward something. They understand that ideas and dreams without implementation are meaningless. Losers talk a lot about what they want to do or are capable of doing but never seem to be moving; they appear to be stuck in the same spot. Winners set themselves a destination and start moving toward it. This isn't to say winners don't stop to think about their actions; they just know that doing nothing won't help them succeed. Winners choose to move.
Winners are disciplined. A winner understands that discipline means doing something even if you don't feel like doing it. They understand that to achieve their goals they have to have a laser like focus. They must sacrifice other things in their pursuit of success. Winners understand that they will have to forgo instant gratification and pleasure in order to achieve their ultimate desires. They are willing to work harder and put in more effort than others. Winning takes time and effort and it isn't always fun, but winners do it anyway.
Winners leave their comfort zone. Our comfort zone is home to mediocracy. Nothing great can be born inside a comfort zone. All learning happens when we push ourselves beyond what we have already mastered. Winners step outside of their comfort zones - often. They learn and grow. They challenge themselves to develop new skills and greater levels of performance. They embrace the fear of the unknown. Losers stick to what they know. Winners choose to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of greater success.
Winners take responsibility. Winners believe that they are responsible for what happens with their life. No one else. Just them. Winners don't blame others for their mistakes or failures. They don't think the world owes them anything. Blaming others implies that they aren't in control of their future; winners don't believe that. They believe they have the capacity to control their destiny and work hard to make their own opportunities. Winners know they are responsible for what happens to them.
Winners see the good in themselves and others. Those at the top of their game always seem to be the most humble. Winners are positive. They focus on possibilities. They are determined dreamers. They inspire others through their own commitment to success. They seek to bring out the best in those around them. They understand that winning is a team sport and they will find new greatness if they help those around them grow. Losers are focused on "what's in it for me?" They put others down and lack the compassion to offer a helping hand. Winners encourage not only themselves but others as well.
Winners never quit. A winner understands that they will encounter defeat. They know they will come across obstacles and setbacks, but they won't let this stop them. Winners are life's infinite try-ers! They never stop trying. When something gets in their way they keep trying to figure out a way around it. Losers choose to give up when it gets hard. Winners won't stop no matter how hard things get. They are persistent.
Winning is a choice. You have the power to choose and with that choice you have the option to be great. None of us can control what events may show up in our lives but we can control how we respond to them. You can make the decision to respond like a winner. There's no argument it will take commitment, perseverance, self-discipline, sacrifice and a lot of hard work, but you can choose to act like a winner.
The pursuit of winning will test your resilience and will cause you to doubt yourself at times, but winning is something you can control. If you want it. If you really want it. Winners possess an "I can" attitude. Can you see yourself winning? "I can!"
One of my favourite quotes that has been circulated many times during this year's summer Olympics is "Winners focus on winning. Losers focus on winners." I think that sums it up nicely.