As a coach, you can bet, my family watched every conceivable Olympic competition over the last few weeks. We watched track, triathlon, sand volleyball, court volleyball, tennis, water polo, biking, fencing, archery (online) wrestling, (we are BIG Jared Frayer fans). And we of course watched Gymnastics but we tried to see a little of everything. In the midst of it all my deep thinking 7.9 year old son asks me “I know some teams have better coaches than others but what makes some of the not famous (read that as “from smaller countries or underdogs”) people win?” What makes a winner a winner? I have a policy that I always answer questions that my kids ask, I try to give them a good understanding of their inquiries because I love being able to refer to Owen as my “deep thinking” 7.9 year old. So what did I say?
Winners are winners for many different reasons. Sadly sometimes people win because they were lucky or in the right place at the right time. But I don’t think that’s the answer to your question. Sometimes they win because other people lose. Winners outlast everyone else, when everyone else is too tired to get up one more time or too frustrated to try one more time, the winner gives it one more go. Their passion won’t let them give up. Winners have something inside that tells them to try again, and try harder. But that thing inside doesn’t only talk to them at the Olympics, it talks to them during training. It talks to them during breakfast, it talks to them before bed. They talk to themselves and say “I am worth it and I can do it” then….they are worth it, and they can do it.”
Granted it’s not word for word and I’m sure I was interrupted during my answer with other questions but that was it in a nutshell. But I still only scratched the surface. What makes a winner win?
Winners take success in smaller steps, they celebrate many small accomplishments along the journey to the ultimate win, while being solely outcome oriented leads to ultimate failure.
Winners find satisfaction inside. It’s not a tangible like a title, a medal, a trophy, or a ceremony. It’s self satisfaction that motivates a winner. That is why 99.9% of all victories go unnoticed. Winners know that those tangible things are byproducts of effort and passion and being a byproduct they are, in a winner’s perspective, secondary in importance.
Winners seek new ways to solve problems, they don’t get discouraged when the unexpected happens they get fueled by it and it makes them imagine great solutions. Then from imagination, hard work and perseverance comes the victory.
Winners make decisions and act, they then redefine the next action step and act again. A loser will study possibilities forever and never start the actions needed to move forward. They are paralyzed by fear and indecision.
Winners stand up to fear, they keep fear in check by listening to it and then taking it’s power away. In contrast others may listen to fear as it drowns out hope and initiative. Others may allow fear to rule the action instead of the other way around.
When people are dazed by past events and are hindered by what has already happened, a winner will keep their mind in the present and their focus on the future. They ‘re drive is to move forward.
A winner knows that they are truly a champion when they best others who are at their own best. Therefore a winner doesn’t look to get ahead of others, they look to get ahead WITH others. I love this concept because it embodies one of my Mom’s favorite adages: “A rising tide lifts all ships.”
Lastly, there is an old Zen saying that states : Shoot your arrow and call what it hits the target.” A winner defines their success. They don’t let others define it for them.
I believe that everyone has the capability to be a winner. We all have, inside us, the drive to succeed; whether it’s in sport, in academics, in character or in other ways. I’ve always been annoyed by those programs that claim that “every child is a winner” since most of them don’t even comprehend why that is a true statement. So may get burdened by having others define what it is to win. I believe that every child has the ability to win. Sometimes it manifests as a defeat in competition, but the victory arrives with what happens after the game. How can any child lose when they have the capacity to help others, to learn, to increase their motivation, to grow and to flourish? They can’t.