In Episode 122, I told you about Kyler Murray’s long history of winning and I share some ways that you can prevent expectations from producing failure in your life. What I didn’t talk about then, but I want to talk about now, is why winning does not equal success. So often we seem to think that those terms are synonymous. That is, a win equals success. I understand how you could think that; however, that is simply not the case.
Some Possible Criteria
You and I have criteria that we are using constantly to determine whether we are winning or losing. There is infinite criterium but here are some you might be using:
- Deal size
- Sales volume
- Period revenue
- Key performance indicators
- Net promoter score
- Return customer count
- Cost per click
- Return on investment
- Customer survey results
- Friend or connection count
- Email list size
- Number of 5-star rating/review
Frequently, our view would be positive of those events we judge to be a win and negative of those we view to be a loss. If your criteria for a win is a five-star rating/review, then by your criteria, a three-star rating/review is a loss. Imagine what would be lost if you ignored everything other than a five-star rating/review?
Second Place, First Loser
No team starts out thinking “Wow, you know if we can just finish in second place this year, that would be great!” It’s particularly interesting right now when you look at the money being thrown around to attract the greatest talent. Earlier this year, the richest contract in professional sports history was signed by Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels. The amount? $430 million for 12 years. Surprisingly, the top 10 largest contracts signed have all been baseball contracts except for boxer Canelo Alvarez who is trailing only Mike Trout.
You have massive movement in National Basketball Association as the most valuable players in the league make their moves to position themselves for their best chance to win a championship in the 2019/2020 season. Money is flowing like crazy as these players receive contracts worth well more than $100-$200 million. You have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant teaming up in Brooklyn. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in LA with the Clippers. Lebron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers. Now obviously, these aren’t the only talented players and many would argue that they aren’t individually even the best players. And that’s not really the point. Some will argue Lebron James is the best, but even if that is true, it wasn’t enough for the Lakers to even make the playoffs during the 2018/2019 season.
It Takes More Than A Single Superstar
The point is this: as with most things in life, it takes more than a single superstar for a team to experience the heights of potential. If you measure success by championships, then every year, there are thousands of the best athletes in the world who are absolute failures. Even if the Nets, Clippers, and Lakers all have the best season they ever had, only one, or possibly none of them, will win a championship.
So, all I have to do is just surround myself with the best talent? If I do that, then I’m golden, right?! It sounds good in theory until you look at the results. Just head over to TheSportster.com and read about the 15 most disappointing super teams in sports history. It’s appalling! There is no excuse to assemble that much talent and then fall short of the goal. Baseball, basketball, hockey, football, even the Olympics are full of talented individuals, possibly the very best in their sport, that fell short.
I think some of the answers to this dilemma lie in the previous episode where we identified that too much focus on the win can actually produce a loss. Constantly examining the minutiae of your performance under a microscope can be distracting and result in worsening performance.
Focus On Success, Not Winning
Here’s the warning that every leader must heed: even when expectations are reasonably placed, you must know how to keep the attention focused on success, not winning. Success can be achieved with or without the win.
Don’t turn off the podcast! I know you are thinking that this is madness. More participation ribbons for everybody. Or an argument for grading on the curve or the elimination of grades completely. Everyone gets a trophy because you’re all winners in my book. No. That’s not it at all.
You Can’t Win Unless You Know How To Lose
What I’m arguing for is a recognition that the definition of success does not have to be a win. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the famous center for the Los Angeles Lakers, once said: “You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.” The reason why winning does not equal success is that success can occur even in a loss.
I know you still think I’m crazy, but I want you to hear me out. Maybe you’ve heard of Morgan Wootten. He is a former high school basketball coach at deMatha Catholic High School and has the second most wins as a head coach in basketball at any level. Listen to his thoughts:
“It’s often been said that you learn more from losing than you do from winning. I think, if you’re wise, you learn from both. You learn a lot from a loss. You learn what is it that we’re not doing to get to where we want to go. It really gets your attention and it really motivates the work ethic of your team when you’re not doing well.”Morgan Wootten
Motivate To Learn And Improve
We’re getting closer. It’s not just about winning or losing. It’s about the motivation to learn and improve. I talked a lot about success in Episode 95 and Episode 96. If you define success as John Wooden does, then you know that:
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”John Wooden
But you don’t get a pass here. Coach Wooden went on to say that our tendency is to hope things will turn out the way we want them to but we don’t really do everything that is necessary to turn those hopes and dreams into a reality.
It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it?! If success is peace of mind because you know you made the effort to do your best to become all that you are capable of becoming, then it means you did everything necessary to create that reality. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that most of us can point at our level of effort and say we did our very best to become the best that we are capable of becoming.
You Don’t Get To Blame Fate
Instead, we would rather blame luck and the circumstances that seem to be out of our control. Coach Wooden’s dad used to tell him don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses. Whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability. No one can do more than that. And if you will do that, regardless of whether you win, you are going to experience success.
But don’t forget – it’s not luck! I talked about this extensively in Episode 119, so I’m not going to go into it again here. Go listen to that episode if you missed it. Actually, go listen to it again if you already heard it. The lessons are that important!
One of Coach Wooden’s favorite poems addresses the topic of luck. It’s written by former Major League Baseball umpire, George Moriarty and is called “The Road Ahead or the Road Behind.” And here it is for you as we start to draw down this episode:
Sometimes I think the fates must grin as we denounce them and insist,
The only reason we can’t win is the fates themselves have missed.
Yet, there lives on the ancient claim – we win or lose within ourselves,
The shining trophies on our shelves can never win tomorrow’s game.
So you and I know deeper down there is a chance to win the crown,
But when we fail to give our best, we simply haven’t met the test
Of giving all and saving none until the game is really won.
Showing what is meant by grit, of fighting on when others quit,
Of playing through not letting up, it’s bearing down that wins the cup.
Of taking it and taking more until we gain the winning score,
Dreaming there’s a goal ahead, of hoping when our dreams are dead,
Of praying when our hopes have fled. Yet, losing, not afraid to fall,
If bravely we have given all, for who can ask more of a man
Than giving all, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.
And so the fates are seldom wrong, no matter how they twist and wind,George Moriarty
It’s you and I who make our fates, we open up or close the gates,
On the Road Ahead or the Road Behind.
Bring Your Best
No excuses. Yesterday’s trophies and successes are not sufficient for today’s challenges. Each day holds the opportunity for you to bring your best effort. Don’t open yourself up for the possibility of regret. Give it your all even if you don’t think anybody will see it or care – you will. If you are willing to do what others won’t then you will have a life that others can’t.
And it won’t always be easy. It’s difficult to give your best day after day. And I feel you – you might think that where you’re at is a dead end. Nothing of value here and winning isn’t an option. You might even feel like you’ve lost the ability to hope.
So lean on me for a moment as I remind you that all hope is not lost. You make yourself a candidate for positive change when you decide that whatever you are doing today, you will bring your best. But luck doesn’t control your future, you do. So give it your all and count it a success!
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Top 15 Most Disappointing Super Teams in Sports History by J. Francis Wolfe on TheSportster.com
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