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.
I CAN ATTITUDE.
ACQUIRE RELAXATION SKILLS
MOTIVATION LEADS TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS.
ACCEPT PRESSURE AS A FRIEND.
WATCH YOUR HERO.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE MOMENT
NEVER GIVE UP
NOTICE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN
(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
Desire, 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
It 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!