What it Really Takes to Win

We just finished an amazing mastermind discussion on the book W1NNING, by Tim Grover. Grover was the personal coach for Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant, and other notables -- not just in sports but in life.

Grover shares 13 principles for Winning based on the stories of MJ, Kobe, his own journey and many others. But before you dive into the book try this little exercise.

Grover suggests early-on answering this one question.

What does winning mean to you?

Seriously. What does winning mean? You won't be able to fully value this book (or any discussions) until you do. Take time to answer that question -- consider it a prerequisite. But, there's one caveat. 

You can only pick only one word for your definition.  

That's right - just one word. 

It makes it a little harder, doesn't it? But go ahead, give it a try. 

Sure the dictionary will tell you winning is "gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition." But that's hogwash. That's average. Your one word definition of winning is really the only answer that matters. It's what will give you focus. It's what creates differentiation. 

In our group, each of us identified a different word. Here are a few:

  • Leadership
  • Grit
  • Courage
  • Achievement
  • Resilience
  • Perseverance
  • Transformation

Each of those words are what winning meant to us individually. For me, my word was was perseverance. When I persevere - I win.  When I don't -- well, I feel like I lost. For my friend Dave, it was courage. When Dave has courage - he wins.  When he doesn't - it feels like he's playing a losing game. 

Replace Winning with Your Word

Now when you read the book, try replacing Winning with YOUR word. It will change everything in your dialog and in your thinking. At least it has for us.

Now let's get to the 13 principles. I listed them here with blanks - and I numbered them, whereas Tim Grover prefers to identify and label them all as #1.   (I get his point, but numbering them just makes them easier to track).

In the book these blanks are filled with the word WINNING.  But I encourage you to fill in the blank with YOUR one word definition of WINNING instead.

  1. ______________ makes you different, and different scares people.
  2. ______________ wages war on the battlefield in your mind.
  3. ______________ is the ultimate gamble on yourself.
  4. ______________ isn’t heartless, but you’ll use your heart less.
  5. ______________ belongs to them, and it’s your job to take it.
  6. ______________ wants all of you; there is no balance.
  7. ______________ is selfish. 
  8. ______________ takes you through hell. And if you quit, that’s where you’ll stay.
  9. ______________ is a test with no correct answers.
  10. ______________ knows all your secrets.
  11. ______________ never lies.
  12. ______________ is not a marathon, it’s a sprint with no finish line.
  13. ______________ is everything.

Look at this list with your word attached.  Explore the meaning behind it. Reflect on them.  How are they true? In what ways do they exhibit themself. Again, you'll find that Grover's list, with your differentiating word for winning will give you true focus.

Winning is Faith

There's so much more we can unpack from this book. But there maybe a 14th principle that we should proclaim right now. "Winning is Faith." Again replace the word Winning with YOUR word in this statement. Unpack for it for yourself.

Why am I adding a 14th principle? Because Faith is a side of the beach ball I never want to forget. Grover doesn't cover that side, but we did in our discussions.

W1NNING is not a perfect book, and it's definitely not a book centered on faith -- at least faith in God -- but it can still play a role in discussing the value of faith as it relates to winning. If you allow yourself to look beyond Grover's use of colorful adjectives and beyond what appears to be a humanistic, cut-throat perspective, you can get to elements that will take you deeper in your faith and in your walk, and closer to your vision.  They key is to challenge yourself with a faith lense.

The revelations that we had, by applying our perspective of faith, made us realize that God wants us to Win. He wants us to give it our all - and value those around us. He wants us to build winning teams, and cultures. Losing is never a desired outcome.

In fact, the Word says this:

  • Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. - 1 Corinthians 9:24 
  • Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. - Hebrews 12:1
  • ...press on toward the goal for the prize - Philippians 3:13

Look. Let's be clear. Winning is a mindset. The enemy wants to win just much as God does.  But how does the enemy drag us down? He drags us down with disappointment, fear, discouragement, frustration, mistruths, confusion, and more. They are all designed to make us want to quit. God does not want us to quit. He wants us to press on.  To keep moving. To keep praying. To keep living!

Is Winning Really Selfish?

I know #7 in Grover's list seems ill-advised -- maybe cut throat. But think about it. Winning -- or whatever YOUR word is -- may "appear" selfish to others when you pursue it. After all, winning does demand you to focus. But, maybe the sooner we can recognize the selfish perspective that others might have, the better off we are in being able to look long range past the critics of today (aka the man in the arena), and look toward the greater vision and value of what our sacrifice really adds. 

For example, what if your word for winning was "living". Is Living selfish? No. Of course not. But the pursuit of living may come across as selfish. 

Is Courage selfish? No, it's not, God calls us to be strong and courageous. But, again, it might come across as selfish to someone else. Grit? Perseverance? Transformation? 

Go ahead. Look back at your word. How might it come across as selfish?

What occurred to me is that people -- maybe even Grover himself -- have gotten confused with the word selfish when they really meant sacrifice

Consider this, Grover makes a point that there's a difference between a selfish winner and a selfish loser. On the surface, I agree. He shares that, "Selfish winners give to themselves, so they can ultimately give to others." I like that -- a lot -- but I think the word that he really means is sacrifice not selfish.  

Napoleon Hill shares this powerful thought that gives us context.  

"Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness."

One other word for winning can be achievement, and it takes sacrifice to get there. Can that sacrifice seem selfish? You bet it can. But it's not really selfish if the intent is right, is it?

You Can't Have Winning without Desire

Napoleon Hill adds another thought that may be even more profound.

"The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat."

Hmmm. He uses the word desire here.  But desire can seem selfish, can't it?   Yet without desire, we don't have drive.  You can't win without desire  God wants us to have desire, as long as we also take delight.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4

Delight here means being grateful and excited.  But it's not a feeling, it's an action.  It says, "Take Delight."   Can that seem selfish?   Yes -- but it's not. 

Can pursing our desire seem selfish too?  Yes, for sure.   On the surface, delight, desire and drive all seem selfish -- but if it's the right purpose -- the right cause -- it really is not selfish. It's for the greater good -- a cause greater than your self. 

Think of how delight, desire, and drive, with the right alignment, can produce one of two things: 

  • restoration, or 
  • transformation

Restoration is about filling your cup. You can't give from an empty cup. You can't win or help other people win, when your resources are depleted. What good is that? Taking time for your self -- to grow yourself -- gives you a better ability to help others. That's not selfish. That's taking care of you, so that you can be fully charged to take care of others. That's how you help others win with you, which leads us to transformation.

Transformation is about being change agents. It starts with renewing your own mind, and then also being creative and innovative in way that renews and advances others.  Again, it's about a cause greater than yourself.

Both Restoration and Transformation are signs of winning -- or whatever YOUR word is!

Final Word

I hope these thoughts are helpful. And I do hope you enjoy Grover's book -- I certainly have. 

Finally, just to spin you up on this concept of Winning - here's one of my favorite all time Michael Jordan videos that I think embodies the mindset. It's hard not think of this perspective when we pursue our word for Winning.  

Keep pressing on.

P.S. If you get a moment - please share with me your word for Winning in the comments below.


Grover, Tim S.. Winning: The Unforgiving Race to Greatness (Tim Grover Winning Series)


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