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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Winning

Before you go all Charlie Sheen on me, hear me out. (This really has nothing to do with him.)

We've been talking a lot around the office about winning lately, whether it be in our recreational volleyball league, a new project against a competing vendor (Click here to see why we hate that word.), or just creating the best systems out there.

There' s a lot of drive required to maintain a relentlessly winning attitude.

And really, it's not just an attitude. Winning is a state of mind.

I'm a really competitive person. With that comes a bit of perfectionism; my better must be better than your better. This has mostly applied to sports for me. I started swimming competitively when I was 8 and did that throughout high school. I hate cold water to this day, but still have a lot of good memories from those ten years and a lot of success - with boxes of ribbons to show for it.

While in college, I joined the rowing team. This took things to a whole new level; while swimming was mostly an individual sport, rowing is as team-ish as you can get [and the water got a whole lot colder]. With that came a whole new slew of factors.

However, the competitive spirit was always there. It just manifested itself in different ways. And it's always been a part of who I am as a person.
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Telling people that they just aren't cutting it doesn't always go over well. But if you can get them to understand that it's not personal - instead that it's for the good of the team, and it inspires them to be better, do better, and work harder - then you've got it made. However, it doesn't always work that way.

The same goes for the office.

The key point here: criticism isn't necessarily personal. If you do it in a respectful manner, with good intentions behind it, telling people they need to do better will only improve things for the good of the team. If everyone is working toward the same goal, then it can cause really positive changes.

You can inspire greatness.

But if not everyone is working toward the same goal, this causes animosity toward the rest of the team from said person.

Winning requires a relentless drive to be the best. If you are surrounded by people with that drive, you will be told when you aren't doing everything to help achieve that goal for the team. And it will make you better.

That's really what it takes to have a winning attitude - you have to believe, and you have to not only accept criticism, but welcome it, and use it to make yourself better. If your goals don't line up with the team's goals, then you'll never win. But if they do, then you're just golden.

And nothing can stop you from winning.

A poem has been making the rounds around the office that I thought was fitting as part of this blog. Thanks, David, for sharing this:
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you'd like to win, but think you can't;
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will.
It's all in the state of mind.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

-adapted from Walter D. Wintle

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