Winning

By Scott Westerman
I originally wrote this in November of 2010. Ironic that every word still applies, both to our football team and to life.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Yesterday my Spartans almost stopped my heart. We played inconsistently for three quarters and got behind a team we should have dominated. it wasn’t until the last minute that our come-from-behind victory was assured.

I Tweeted, “Ugly, but got the ‘W’.” to my friends. One of them tweeted back, “There is no such thing as an ugly win.”

There is.

Ben Lichtenwalner rails against the toxic leadership that so-called winners all to often inject into our organizations. In his Servant Leadership Manifesto, he writes, “You see it in business, when narcissistic executives build golden parachutes and steal from tomorrow to make today look good… You see it in Academia when professors forget the students in their march toward self-promotion and prominence in their field… You see it in churches where the minister’s name appears above the savior’s… You see it in charities that put growth and recognition ahead of the needs of the suffering… You see it in government when politicians promote themselves over the needs of their constituents.”

Yes, it’s possible to win ugly. But that’s not what real winning is all about.

Winners play by the rules – History is littered with those who have bent and broken the rules to get to the top. In time, everybody who twists the truth get’s caught. And the ages will record your true intentions. Play fair, win fair.

Winners give their best effort – The easy prize is hollow. And you don’t have to finish first to be a winner. Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything.”

Winners learn from their mistakes – All winners have failed. Many have failed often. A mistake can be a powerful teacher. To paraphrase Denis Waitley, “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past, focus on the present and plan for the future.”

Winners are flexible – The world is constantly changing. Winners change with it and are often change agents. I love this Maria Robinson chestnut. “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Winners plan ahead – They are always imagining the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow and prepare for them today. As the old saying goes, It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

Winners never give up – Award Winning screenwriter, Jim Cash, wrote screenplays for 15 years before he hit a home run with “Top Gun”. Tom Monaghan admits he did “everything wrong” on his way to creating Domino’s Pizza. Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before creating the Ford Motor Company that we know today.

Winners are humble – Most successful people are also nice people. They may achieve great things, but they never forget the hard work, the luck, and those who helped them get there.

Winners make more winners – This is, perhaps, the greatest trait of a true winner. They recognize that they can’t do it alone and inspire others to greatness, leaving other true winners in their wake.

Life is hard. It requires constant commitment, patience, tenacity and resiliency. And the irony is this: There is just as much pain, inconvenience and effort in an unfulfilled life as there is in an exceptional life.

It’s your choice. Choose to win.