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Being a winner: a new perspective

Following Team GB’s spectacular haul of medals at London 2012, it’s timely to reflect on the nature of winning. We have all been inspired by the achievement of Britain’s athletes, perhaps to the point of being over-awed. Is that level of achievement out of reach for us mere mortals?

Much of the literature in self-help, management and business portrays winning as a zero sum game in which there has to be a loser.  The consequence of this is that our mental and emotional energy can be focused on the alleged competition and the need to beat them to become a winner.  This post looks to articulate a different perspective.

This perspective is based on the fact that we are all born different with unique skills, talents and attributes. To quote John Mason, ‘You were born an original don’t become a copy.’


Therefore, rather than focus on winning, perhaps we should concentrate our mental and emotional energy on the following question: “Have I made the very, very best effort with these unique attributes that I have?”  The competition then moves from outside to inside. The competition becomes one’s former best self.

There is nothing noble about being superior to some other person.  True nobility lies in being superior to your former best self

So can we have a disciplined structured approach to the above?  This starts with the ubiquitous goal-setting.  Start by arranging a 30-minute meeting with yourself each week; nobody else is invited and start a plan–do-review process with your own life.  Start by evaluating what you want to be remembered for. The late Stephen Covey advocated thinking about your own funeral, envisaging what you want your eulogy to be. This eulogy then informs the values that you use in your relationships including the most important one, the one you have with yourself.  Secondly take sometime to evaluate the main roles you have in life (partner, worker, hobbyist, charity worker etc.), then plan your goals against each of these roles.

However there is a check and balance here:  How often do plans remain just plans!

Execution is the missing link between aspiration and results

To turn aspirations into results, ask yourself each morning what are the 3-5 key things that if I completed exceedingly well would make the biggest contribution to the achievement of my goals.  Then go and do it!

 So winning becomes answering the question: “Am I better today than I was yesterday?” And you judge yourself against this question and this question alone.

This whole philosophy is tough doctrine as it states that if the problem is out there then that very thought is part of the problem.   Me, I need to take responsibility for three things:

  • My own actions and performance
  • My own development
  • Being a good team player/coach to others

This in turn depends on how good you are as a coach to yourself and how honest your are at self-appraisal!  Asking yourself as part of the review part of plan- do- review the following questions:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work so well?
  • What should I do less of or stop doing?
  • What should I do more of or start doing?

Listening to the interviews with many of our medal-winners, it is clear that their journey has almost always been a long one, obstructed by challenges such as injury, financial struggles and dips in performance. For many of the athletes that did not win a medal, they took away the satisfaction of a new personal best. This will be part of their journey to future success. There are times when we also need to redefine winning from having to beat somebody else, to beating your former best self and giving your very, very best to this task with a day-by-day focus.

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