Excited multiracial millennial colleagues dance holding paperwork happy with business project success or good work results, overjoyed diverse employees have fun in office celebrating goal achievement

Winning within ourselves is the biggest battle any of us will ever face! Stephen Covey says, “Inner victories proceed outer victories.” If you really want to be a winner then you must face the opponent within yourself. Winning is learning how to tame the tiger that lurks within. It’s been said the difference between a champ and a chump is “U”. Let’s look at ten winning ways at work to the acronym I AM A WINNER.





(1) I Can Attitude

Believe you are a champion and you can reach high and go far.

There’s an exercise done with children sometimes to help them open up themselves to great possibilities.

Imagine they are all standing in a line facing a wall. A teacher asks them to go up to the wall and place their hand on it.

As the children touch the wall, one by one, most of them choose a spot relatively within their reach.

Then the teacher asks, “Why didn’t any of you reach as high as you could to the top of the wall?”

For most children (and probably for us adults) without parameters “I can” only falls under what’s within our grasp or immediate view. The “I can’t” is everything else. We assume we couldn’t reach for the top or the bottom, or the other side because it didn’t exist within our realm of possibilities.

I encourage you to think about the walls in your professional life and ask yourself if you’re reaching as high as you can to win in them?

(2) Acquire Relaxation Skills

When we become stressed we carry tension in our bodies mentally and physically. To perform our best we must practice relaxations skills for the mind and the body.

Think about a basketball player on the free-throw line in the final seconds of a tied game. They might shake their hands out, bounce the ball, try to cleanse their thoughts, and look at the goal, shutting out the crowd to relax and make the winning shot.

There are several techniques and tools to use to relax during stress or anxiety. Here are a few for both the body and the mind:

  • Box breathing. Move your hand in the shape of a box as you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, breathe out 4 seconds, and hold 4 seconds. Repeat.
  • Listen to and repeat winning affirmations. You can use an app or write your own. Insight Timer is a great tool for affirmations, medication, and relaxation in general.
  • Stand up and shake it out. Yes, you heard me, just shake it out. Start with your hands, then your arms, your shoulders, head, body, legs, feet, and toes. It doesn’t hurt to pop in your Headphones and listen to the song “Shake it Out” at the same time.
  • Think of a place, real or imagined, where you can or have felt most relaxed. Visualize what it’s like to be there, the smells, the taste in your mouth, the temperature around you, the sounds, and the feeling you have. Now think of a word to connect to that place. Just one word. It can be anything and it doesn’t have to relate to the place. Next time you need to relax, close your eyes, say the word to yourself and go there in your mind.

(3) Motivation Leads to Mental Toughness

Image from the movie the Guardian with Rescuer holding onto survivor from helicopterDesire, motivation, and mental toughness come from the heart. In the movie, The Guardian, Kevin Costner played a rescue swimmer with the Coast Guard and the movie highlighted the many times he saved lives. One story was about how he pulled a man from a boat in a helicopter. It was pulling them up with a cable through the storm and Costner said, “I won’t let go.”

It’s one thing to have the physical strength to hold on, but to have the mental toughness to not let go while your shoulder is dislocated and tendons are torn is true strength. Jimmy Conners once said, “The will to win is inside of you. You have to bring it out.”

“The will to win is inside of you. You have to bring it out.” – Jimmy Conners

(4) Accept Pressure as a Friend

Rolly PollyIt is true that many people are afraid of pressure. They get nervous and fold under pressure. They have not learned to manage their stress. They may not see pressure as a friend. Pressure is an opportunity to help us perform at a higher level. One Christmas my wife and I were wrapping presents in front of the fireplace. I found a doodlebug or sometimes called a Rolly Polly. It was the smallest Rolly Polly I had ever seen. As I placed it into my palm I noticed that it was stuck in a ball and wouldn’t open up. I gently placed a little pressure from my finger onto the bug. He opened up and began walking all over my arm. Sometimes we need a little pressure to help us open up to new possibilities.

(5) Watch Your Hero

When I first started playing tennis as a young boy I wanted to play as well as Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. When I went to my first tennis camp, I learned a valuable lesson. It is important to watch your hero. We watched videotapes of the tennis legends. We learned by especially watching them play under pressure. The more you watch your hero, the more you will perform like your hero. Everyone needs a hero to watch and learn from. Who is your hero? Do you have a hero for different areas of life?

(6) Immerse Yourself in the Moment

It is so easy to get distracted by the outer annoyances in our environment. Do you know people who can stay focused, be in the moment, and block out all the distractions around them? This is a skill that can be developed. I loved the movie, Gladiator. Every time Russel Crow was ready to fight he would kneel down, pick up a handful of dirt, smell it, and immerse himself in the moment. We are not effective when we live only in the past or the future. We need to have a balance of the past, and the future, while immersing ourselves in the present.

(7) Never Give Up

“Failure is success in progress.” —Albert Einstein

Failure is a part of life. You only truly fail when you decide to give up.

I’m reminded of a story, it’s an old one, but a good one. There was a farmer who had a donkey that fell down a well. The donkey was old and the well was dry. The work to get the donkey was far more daunting than either the man or the donkey could handle. So he gathered his neighbors and they started to throw dirt down the well to cover it up.

At first, the donkey cried for hours, but then it stopped. When the farmer looked down the well to see why he noticed that every time a bucket of dirt was tossed down, the donkey would shake it off and climb higher. As the dirt filled the well, the donkey slowly made its way to the top of the well. and trotted off.

In this case, both the man and the donkey gave up, but what’s important here is the donkey’s experience. In life, you will fall, sometimes deeper than you have before. Others may give up on you, and even throw dirt on you. But you have to shake it off, step up, and keep going. Each trouble, each failure is another stepping stone out of that well. That’s progress toward success and winning at work (and life)!

(8) Notice Your Body Language

My high school tennis coach taught me the importance of body language on the court during a match. Many people droop their shoulders, sigh, shake their heads in disgust, throw their racquet, hit a ball into the fence, or have a screaming fit. I must admit, I have no doubt I’ve done all of that sometime in my thirty years of tennis. But your body language says a lot more not only to others but to yourself than you think.

When we are down or not performing our best, we still need to have confident body language. That means holding our head up, making good eye contact, walking with purpose, controlling our emotions, and moving with a mission to give our winning best.

(9) Effectively Practice

The great coach of Penn State, Joe Paterno said, “The will to win is worthless, without the will to prepare.” The greatest leaders, sports stars, and people in life are those who don’t only rely on talent. They work consistently by practicing. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it does make permanent and effective and that will lead to winning. We need to practice and polish anything we do to be great. This is how we excel.

(10) Remember to Always Have Fun

Basketball coaching legend, John Wooden said, “Success is the peace of mind in knowing that you have done your best, to become the best you are capable of becoming.” We must remember that success is not just results but a process. Winning is learning to give our best while relaxing, laughing, making friends, and enjoying the journey. Don’t forget that you can still have fun while you’re winning!

Catch it. Positive delighted smiling colleagues sitting at the table and throwing a tennis ball while having fun

As a novice tennis player at age 15, I was excited when my father took me to watch my first professional tennis tournament in Dallas. John Mcenroe and Johan Kriek blasted serves, returns, and winners all over the court. I was amazed at how effortless and easy they made the game look.

You would probably agree with me that true professionals, no matter their craft, make their work look easy; their work looks effortless because they are leaders and have learned to “lead with E’s.”

Would you like to achieve true professionalism and learn to lead with E’s? Here’s a guide on how to get started:


“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Strengths Champion Certified Coach® BadgeThe speed of innovation, a growing skills gap, and poorly prepared graduates has led to a global talent shortage, especially in STEM-related fields. Its clear changes need to be made in early education to create more work-integrated projects and experiences from the beginning, but what about the workforce we have now? Increasing your knowledge and improving your skills is pivotal to staying ahead in the changing and innovative world. Knowledge is not only power, but it’s income.

As the cost of education increases and student debt becomes the second-highest consumer debt category, it’s important to know that traditional education isn’t the only way for you to lead with this “E.” Continual learning and up-skilling are an everyday part of professional growth and development. From LinkedIn Learning to Cousera to my own courses here on Strengths Champion Solutions, you can learn everything from how to use Excel (LinkedIn Learning), get certified as a Project Manager (Coursera), or become a Strengths Champion Certified Coach®.

It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money to learn. You can also read a book, or learn and practice a new app or program on your computer by watching videos. Find something you’re interested in and start with one article, book, or video and go from there.


Experience is the teacher of all things.” – Julius Caesar

Did you find that dream role, the one that describes your future career goal perfectly? You know you’ll be amazing at it. You’ve prepared for it; went to school for it even. But you discover it requires years of experience.

A survey in 2019 showed two-thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop business awareness. One-third of employers felt that job applicants didn’t have a developed enough sense of their chosen career or job.

When I was 24 years old and a novice therapist, I knew just enough to be dangerous. Fresh out of school with a Master’s degree and very little experience, older patients doubted my abilities because of my age. In order to gain their trust and confidence, I needed to practice first and draw on my previous experience. Just because I started when I was 24, doesn’t mean everything that happened before that didn’t have an influence on my ability to be a great therapist and one-day Strengths Champion.

Rick Warren wrote, “You have been shaped by your experiences in life, most of which were beyond your control. God allowed them for his purpose of molding you”


“A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” – Charles Schwab.

I have noticed many of my friends enjoy college football over professional football. when I ask them why they say it’s because the players have so much more enthusiasm. They are able to show their talents for the first time in front of thousands of people and often times on television. They are playing for the potential to move into a multi-million dollar career. Their love for the game is still fresh and filled with magic.

Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, said, “There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”

Practice these 3 things to keep enthusiasm from fizzling out when you lead with this “E”:

  1. Be the host to get the most! – Greet the day with intention, joy, and openness.
  2. Let it go and be gung ho! – Exaggerate your body language. Smile bigger, make eye contact and keep your arms and hands open.
  3. Balance outstanding old with the novel new! – Reminisce about the old and create optimism and dream of the new to create adventure and anticipation.


“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Gymnastics - Artistic - Women's Beam - Final - Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - August 3, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States in action on the balance beam REUTERS/Mike BlakeSimone Biles has changed gymnastics with her gravity-defying stunts. It was her full-time job. To become the gold-medalist Olympian she is today took genuine creative effort. She trained seven hours a day and worked out six days a week – sometimes twice in a day.

If we desire success we must be willing to pay the price. Part of that price is the effort of work and practice.

It’s been said, “Winners are willing to do the things losers are unwilling to do.” Simone Biles did those things, and that is why she kept winning.

It’s also important to point out, looking towards Simone Biles, one of those things is knowing when it’s time to focus on another kind of “E”. Emotional well-being. One of the best things a leader can do for themselves and their team is to recognize when there is too much effort, work, and sacrifice and it’s time to focus on being emotionally and mentally well.


“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” – Colin Powell

When I was 2, my mother took a picture of me dressed in a black suit, white shirt and tie, and perfectly combed hair. She was communicating to me that I should be perfect.

I struggle with perfectionism, daily. Imposter syndrome, even at my age, hasn’t escaped me. I’m always wondering, “Am I good enough?”

When you’re leading with your E’s it’s important to know the difference between striving for perfection (a.k.a. unrealistic expectations) and excellence.

Excellence is your best. You will make mistakes. You can learn from mistakes. Others may even seem better at things than you. But ask yourself, “Did I give my everything?” And if you did, that is excellence!


“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” – Nicholas M. Butler

It doesn’t matter what field you work in, when you are leading with your E’s, it’s important to become an expert in your niche.

Becoming an expert builds credibility and confidence — which leads to success.

Defining and excelling with a specialized niche allows you to identify, claim, and build on your market expertise and can lead to fast advancement in your career or business.

To help you take your niche expertise to the next level, follow these three simple tips:

  1. Make sure you are passionate in what you do.
  2. Understand your ideal and most profitable customers.
  3. Make sure you can fulfill a need for those customers or for your business in what you do.


“He conquers who endures.” – Persius

The all-time great Jack Nicklaus is a living legend. He is the ultimate golfer who has become immortal. Although Tiger Woods is the contemporary version, Tiger knows he has to endure in his professional career to be compared to “The Golden Bear” who is Jack Nicklaus. It takes daily practice and commitment to endure as long as professionals like that, no matter if you are a professional golfer or a leader in corporate America.

It’s good to have a good thing going. But it takes greatness to keep a good thing enduring. It requires persistence through hard times and being professional and working even when you suffer from boredom, burnout, conflicts, disappointments, distractions, frustration, and illness. While it’s important to take care of yourself, now more than ever, endurance builds resilience. Knowing when you can and can’t keep going will help you meet the demands of complex workplaces and relationships.

Think of your endurance like a muscle. Being able to navigate stressful situations at work helps make that muscle stronger over time. Here are a few tips to build endurance at work:

  • Be honest with yourself when you are overwhelmed and about what your own triggers are.
  • Don’t run from tough situations. Look for tough people to partner with until you develop your own endurance muscles.
  • Don’t confuse complexity for stress. Break down situations into manageable pieces and try seeing it from different angles. Think of it as problem-solving rather than problem-causing.

As you can see, leading with E’s isn’t as effortless as it may look. It takes practice.

Drop a comment on best practices you have around leading with one of the E’s! I’d love to hear from you.