Mindset Made Simple Tip #83 – Watch or listen HERE.
"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing," said former UCLA football coach, Red Sanders.
This mantra is beat into our heads in this culture.
It is so ingrained, that if we don’t “win”, whether “win” means actually scoring more points than the other team or earning a starting role, we start new teams, look to transfer or find all the reasons why we shouldn’t commit…instead of finding ways to do what we can, with what we have, where we are!
To contradict Coach Sander’s quote, Coach Vince Lombardi said, “winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything.”
This is a great sentiment, but the will to win is SO HARD to stick to when winning is elusive!
And let’s face it, as coaches and business leaders, we know that if we don’t win, we won’t be leading for long! And as players, if we don’t score or produce, we will soon be replaced.
If our athletes or employees feel as if “winning” is the only thing, what do we do when we don’t win (and I hate to break it to them, they won’t always win!). And how can we keep winning when the pressure is on?
How can we help prepare our teams for tough times?
How can we help them build momentum when we just can’t seem to catch fire? How do we keep them fueling the will to win?
The first thing we can do is approach both winning and losing like Kobe Bryant. Bryant, in an interview with Lewis Howes on The School of Greatness podcast, talks about approaching winning and losing in the same exact way. He said “losing is exciting” (spoken like someone who didn’t lose much 😊) because it makes us take a look at what we are doing.
His point was this. We should approach wins and losses exactly the same. Just because we won doesn’t mean we played well.
And just because we lost doesn’t mean everything was for not!
If we look at the body of work, regardless of the outcome (which we don’t control) and pull out what went well and why, how can we repeat it and then explore what can we do better and how will we do it approach, we are evaluating, not on emotion, but on fact.
I am sure you have heard of the Well-Better-How evaluation. It’s a great way to review and I am going to argue its benefits based on building or maintaining confidence and momentum!
As Trevor Moawad argues in It Takes What It Takes, we must forget how we feel and trust what we know. The way we feel isn’t always true. What we know are facts. Facts don’t change based on our feelings!
Therefore, a factual, not an emotional, response to the game’s outcome is critical.
Being able to distinguish between actions that made a difference in the outcome and those that did not is critical to improvement…for winners and losers. Teams that win repeatedly have the ability to solve problems, to put mistakes and challenges in perspective and then deal with them.
This all starts with evaluating the facts!
Winning is awesome! And winning is the ultimate goal. But, as Koby said, how we handle winning is as important as how we handle losing.
We won’t win for long if we fail to maintain the discipline and support systems that make winning possible. As Rosabeth Moss Canter says in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End, winning “stems from a great deal of consistent hard work to perfect each detail.”
However, when we win, we tend to overlook the small details, the mundane things that add up to success. Success means we win, work and win again. But we sometimes neglect the work in between the wins…which makes it harder to win!
Winning streaks are marked with consistency, continuity and investment!
Kanter says that true winners, consistent winners, “have the confidence to pick apart their own performance and improve upon it.”
If we take Kobe’s advice and evaluate wins and losses exactly the same, we then need to consider how Kanter’s approach will work when we aren’t winning.
Since losing rocks confidence and inhibits our ability to create momentum, what can we do to manufacture both?
Let’s break down the work confidence – “con” = together, with - and “fidence” or fidere’ in latin = to trust.
Losing makes people feel out of control. A sense of control is vital to confidence.
Confidence – “with trust” – is such an elusive “feeling.” Getting our athletes to understand that confidence is really just TRUSTING we can do something about the situation…trusting that we can figure things out.
To do this, we too must do the same things we do when we win. We, too, must have the confidence to pick apart our performance and improve upon it. To figure things out, we need facts!
Denying that we, as individuals, have any real part in the failure will only lead to more losing.
On the other hand, discussing things that seem undiscussable will be par for the course if we talk about hard things when we win and when we lose.
First, we must agree that when we lose, we are at a crossroad, not a cliff!
Just because we lost does not mean we did not make strides. And if we are evaluating wins and losses in the same way, it will be easier to see the small wins even in disappointment.
And we MUST celebrate the small wins.
I am not saying we get pumped up about losing or ignore issues that need to change.
What I am saying is that if we do celebrate the things we do well, especially in the moment (don’t think major team celebration here, but maybe an acknowledgment or a fist pump), we are sending signals to the brain that say…DO THAT AGAIN!
This positive emotion puts us in what Dr. Barbara Fredrickson from UNC calls Broaden and Build.
We are so good at acknowledging things that don’t go right for ourselves and others, that we need to make it a point to notice and acknowledge things that do. This goes against how we “feel” when things aren’t going our way.
Again…we are looking for facts…not feelings!
Why celebrate? We are just doing what we are supposed to do?
My thought is this… if you were always doing what you are supposed to do, you would probably be winning. So doing what we are supposed to do isn’t a given, sometimes it is a gift, and we need to acknowledge it…with an “alright!” (at least!).
If we do this, we create positive emotion (one of the biggest predictors of peak performance partially due to our broadened and build state); we broaden our once narrow focus of negativity to an expansive outlook on solutions and opportunities!
This boost can help us feel like we have some control over our circumstances…and this is the essence of confidence.
If we feel like we can exert control over circumstances, we can build momentum, one positive play at a time…even if we are not winning!
And if we actually acknowledge what is going well for others, we are doing what we used to ask our kids to do at Akron. We called it OTL - observing the landscape. We can’t see opportunities unless we are looking for them!
By observing the landscape and the positive actions of others, we are adding evidence to our collective databases of confidence in our teammates. This helps us trust the power of the team…that we have the ability to bounce back after a hiccup and get back on track.
If we aren’t celebrating what we and our teammates are contributing, we have a tendency to start to expect the worst from ourselves and everyone around us when something doesn’t go our way. We then act on those expectations, fulfilling our detrimental prophecy.
Looking for bright spots, figuring out how and why they worked and discussing the hard stuff after wins and losses allow us to see opportunities for continued improvement, regardless of the outcome.
This helps us avoid getting behind the eight ball by not allowing ourselves to ignore that one little thing that moves the needle in our wins.
It also helps us avoid that “here we go again” mantra that interrupts our will to win when things get tough.
Winners solve problems, put mistakes and challenges in perspective and figure out a way to deal with them.
Yes, it takes some confidence to do this, but more importantly, it takes facts.
What are we doing well and why? (Then a quick little “hooray for us!”)
What do we need to do better?
How will we do it?
Simply put, what can we do with what we have, where we are?
Have a wonderful week!
P.S. I would love to share other ideas on how we can improve our performance with your team. Schedule a team session today or check out my online courses at www.ssbperformance.com/courses
Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach
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