There’s a clear discrepancy in the line of thinking between those who constantly lose in life, and those who win. A winner doesn’t merely have a single victory or claim to fame, it seems as though everything he does is a competition, and every day is a page in some grand novel he’s writing.
The loser, on the other hand, is the victim, hard done by with a terrible starting position in life and the odds stacked against him so greatly that he has no real hope of making it big. I say this facetiously; of course, the list of great men and women who have risen from poverty to prominence is too long to list for you here.
Each of us have the tendencies of a loser, but also the capacity to think like and be a winner. Choosing which path to follow is a battle in and of itself.
The road of the loser is filled with ease and excuse, the road often travelled, while the path of the winner is just the opposite, filled with solitude, tough choices, persistence, and much more failure.
The winner pushes himself while the loser stays in the familiar. It’s because of this that the winner will inevitably lose more often, but he will also grow, evolve, and inch closer to that person he has it within himself to become.
The choice of which path to choose isn’t easy.
We rationalize our laziness, we make excuses for our minimal effort, yet deep down each of us knows what we must do to reach our potential, and thus, become a winner.
So, let us leave the loser behind and figure out how to see the world through a winner’s eyes, with a champion’s prerogative rather than a loser’s gaze.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Martin Luther King Jr
I hated the place.
I’d moved into a small apartment – very small – in the city. It was old with cracks in the wall and a floor that looked like it hadn’t been replaced in 80 years, though I think it was more like 60 in reality.
I was young, I guess I still am, and having just quit a well-paying job to start a business, I knew it was time to make some cutbacks. The choice in apartment buildings perfectly portrayed that desire.
When we set out to start any business we tend to dream of the immeasurable success that will soon follow. The reality is usually different; a test of our ability to persist, innovate, work hard, harder than our competition, and then persist some more.
In my own journey I needed to fail before I succeeded.
I needed to understand the workload that winning requires. I needed to feel the sting of getting it wrong numerous times before I ever got it right. I needed to persist after failing to truly understand how to think like a winner and be a winner, a process that still continues and may never cease.
The struggle shows you a couple truths that winners have to understand:
This means it’s all on you and what you do, not what you intend to do or even what others do.
It isn’t where you start, it’s where you finish that ultimately matters, and that means finishing everything you start.
It makes no real rational sense to quit a sure thing to start something that hasn’t been proven to work.
Yet that’s what many winners in the entrepreneurial world do. They take the road less traveled and follow their gut. Somewhere they’ve developed a faith in who they are, what they’re destined for, and what their mission is.
This faith enables them to get up earlier, and work harder than most. While winners think a certain way, their line of thinking ultimately leads to action while the loser’s line of thinking leads to inaction and helplessness.
When the company he’d built from the ground up let him go, Steve Jobs may have gone into a dark place for a period of days, maybe even mere minutes.
But that’s not what happened. Although he’d been tossed out of his own company, the winning mindset that brought him to prominence and helped that company flourish would bring him back only a few years later.
The reality is that most people think like losers, because it’s easier to think like a loser.
To think like a winner you take responsibility for both your actions and your future. It’s easier to make excuses. It’s easier to sleep in, to set smaller, more accomplishable goals.
Being on this site, I’m sure you’re inclined to think like a winner. You’re taking steps to change how you look and perform, so let’s simply ensure that you get the most from the fine articles on this wonderful website, and to do that the mindset of a winner must be yours.
“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.”
Winners can’t be victims, it’s not in the narrative of their view of the world nor in the life they’re trying to create or the life they’re living.
It’s impossible, in fact, for them to be a victim because they control their destiny and their present. They’ve embraced and internalized a “tough love” truth:
Wherever you are in a given moment is where you deserve to be.
That’s something I had to come to grips with as I toiled with mediocre results, hustling and sacrificing and persisting but having nothing to show for it (or at least in that wee little mind I had back then).
When I saw others with the success I wish I had, I couldn’t help but see myself as hard done by life or as a victim with excuses for failures that I couldn’t change.
Things changed when I finally accepted the ancient Stoic maxim that where I was was where I deserved to be.
That the actions and risks I had taken, the work I had done, the city, state, country, and home I was born into, the way I thought and acted and dreamt all determined where I was, and the only person that could change my circumstances was me.
Some look at this as having far too much pressure placed upon their shoulders, which is, again, the worldview of the victim, the loser. The winner, he sees this as power.
When you finally realize that your future is dependent on your actions, on how much you work, this gives you the power to create whatever life you want to create. The first step is work harder than everyone else.
The winner takes control and responsibility, the loser gives it away.
Winners don’t cling their hopes to a deal or another person or a gift.
Their confidence is deep, deep enough to allow them to walk away from something, maybe a business deal if it doesn’t sit right with them or if they don’t get what they feel they’re worth even if no one else sees their value, yet.
A winner accepts help and gives it graciously, but he doesn’t depend on it. He (or she, of course), will build what they want regardless of who joins them.
For the first time in my life I heard someone say I have nothing else to learn. It was an older guy, actually, a smart guy. I was shocked.
What an ignorant idiot, I thought. Every winner I know feels as though he has a long way to go, even in his field of expertise.
As soon as you think you’re a master, even if you damn well are, the humility that got you to where you are is shed and in its stead is arrogance.
A winner’s life is a constant uphill climb. Even when he’s dominated an industry, a weight class, a sport, whatever, he has to take it even further.
Michael Jordan, even at the height of his greatness would draw upon the slightest perceived ounce of disrespect to punish his opponent. Napoleon’s quest for knowledge and power was lifelong. Robert E. Lee, though arguably the greatest general the Western world has ever produced, and a man respected immensely by both allies and enemies, saw knowledge as a lifelong pursuit.
The winner has confidence in spades, but just as much humility. This is something else that failure teaches.
While we each need our victories, we have to learn to appreciate the lessons that come from our failures just as much.
As with most great battles in our lives, the battle between being a winner or a loser is an internal one, and it occurs daily, within every opportunity to quit early, to sleep in, to set small goals.
Where most run into trouble is in failing to recognize the enemy. They don’t see taking the easy route as bad or destructive. They see watching TV instead of working as a warranted break, something that’s “good” in the grand scheme rather than destructive. They rationalize mediocrity because winning is just too arduous, it asks too much of them.
You, however, are different. You may not be winning every battle, but you know that it’s there, now it’s time to fight it.
Identify what, in your life, can go and what can stay. Identify the battles that need to be fought daily. The meals you should be eating, the workouts you need to partake in, the work that needs to be done in order for you to be a success in your own eyes.
Winning is a habit. If you do the work that most shy away from, winning will be your habit.