Ingredients for Winning

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Soon after I posted my article yesterday (see The Habit of Winning), I read the following quote about Floyd Landis, Sunday’s winner of the 2006 Tour de France:

“Riding with Lance Armstrong taught Floyd Landis some key principles he used to win the Tour de France: Forget pain, overcome mishap, crush self doubt, and focus only on your victory.”

The Tour de France is a grueling 14-day, 2,106-mile bicycle race up and down the mountains of France. Ultimate success doesn’t happen with a one day victory. Every day each rider has to recommit to his vision and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals for that day. They realize that each day’s triumph gets them one step closer to the final prize. Here’s what we can apply to our own endeavors from that powerful statement about Landis:

  1. Forget pain – Everyone standing behind you is not there to pat you on the back. Nevertheless, without experiencing the problems and challenges of dealing with difficult people, you wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate your victories and successes. Let pain be a motivator not an inhibitor.
  2. Overcome mishap – As brilliant as you are, your wonderful ideas will not work perfectly all the time. Contingency planning is not an option; it’s a necessity. Preparing in advance for difficulties will allow you to make adjustments easier and continue your forward momentum.
  3. Crush self doubt – People are often their own worst enemy, because of how they see themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself or what you have to offer, then it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. If doubt is pervasive in your thoughts, you have lost before even beginning. Eliminate negative self-talk and change your mental conversations to focus on your strengths.
  4. Focus only on your victory – You must see it in your mind before you can achieve it. A single-minded, laser-like focus will allow you to stand firm and be resilient as pain, adversity, and doubts come your way. These are just distractions that will keep you from your achieving your vision.

Forgetting pain, overcoming mishap, crushing self doubt, and focusing only on the anticipated victory in front of us are key ingredients for achieving victory in every area of our lives, including business. These are similar to the ingredients that go into a cake. By themselves they get limited results, but when they are mixed together they produce something special and flavorful.

Every day of our lives we are in a race, not against others, but against time to fulfill the purpose for which we were created before we die. Life is not easy, but you’re the only one who can run your race. Live your life to win every day, so that at the end of it you know that you invested everything you had and you can confidently claim your prize.

Empowering your for success,
Paul Wilson

Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, Tour de France, discipline, Floyd Landis, sports, Lance Armstrong

Enjoy the rest of the article here.

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The Habit of Winning

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Everyone wants to be associated with a winner, i.e. someone who is regarded as successful. However, just because you know a winner doesn’t automatically make you one, just like being in a garage doesn’t mean that you are now a car. There are some key criteria that qualify someone as a winner.

Before I go any further, I need to define some terms that people use in various ways. I define a “win” as an achievement or accomplishment and I define “winning” as on-going, successive achievements. The habit of winning occurs when a person is able to follow a self-developed pattern of thoughts, behaviors and actions that allows them to consistently overcome obstacles and challenges in order to achieve continual victories in their pursuits.

Success is not established with one victory necessarily. Real success is sustained by winning over the long-term. Successful people are not successful due to happenstance or good fortune. They are successful because they have taken the time to develop the habit of winning. The habit of winning applies to your business, career, marriage, relationships, personal pursuits, sports, etc. People can develop the habit of winning just like they can develop the habit of losing, i.e. they get used to failure or self-sabotaging ways and begin to expect these negative patterns to continue.

The habit of winning is easy to see in sports. One obvious athlete that typified this mindset was Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the best basketball player of all time. Most people would agree that he was the most talented player whenever he stepped on the court. While he had immense talent, two of his character traits that stood out the most, though, were his work ethic and will to win. In the off-season he probably worked harder than anybody else did. He understood that the secret to sustained winning was not just his talent. He knew that he had to keep doing those things that got him to the top in order for him to stay at the top.

Winning Habits = Discipline

Most people are satisfied to simply have talent or a good idea and think that will be enough to succeed over the long-term. In business your talent or a good idea may help you gain a new customer or an initial contract, but those things by themselves won’t allow you to develop healthy, long-term revenue streams. It’s not time to relax after winning the contract or gaining a new customer. The intensity and focus of the pursuit shouldn’t decrease; it simply changes. Discipline and diligence are required to grow prosperous relationships (click on Disciplined for Success).

One key area of your business where it is critical for you to develop winning habits is customer service. If you want to create long-term success, you have to be relentless and almost fanatical about maintaining a high-quality level of service. Here are some ideas to help you do that.

  • Send written thank you notes to your customers before and after the deal is closed.
  • Return customer phone calls or emails within 24 hours.
  • If possible, perform a self-audit of your product or service while it is being used by your customer.
  • Administer surveys that invite your customers to critique your offerings.
  • Add valuable services as an upgrade for current products.
  • Improve the ease of use of your products and services.
  • Provide free upgrades to your product or service prior to a customer request.
  • Discover ways to streamline your processes and lower your costs, so that you can pass on some of the savings to your customers.
  • Brainstorm ideas for new and better product or services.
  • Invite potential customers to focus groups to develop relationships and understand their needs, so that you can tailor your offerings to meet those needs.
  • Use a newsletter or blog to proactively provide valuable information that will assist your customer in their operations.

Winning consistently in business and in life takes focus, passion, perseverance, commitment, resilience, and discipline. Sometimes it is hard to maintain a high level of focus everyday; however, don't give yourself excuses or blame other people for you not achieving your goals. One thing that will help is for you to revisit your written vision often. When you have those bouts of laziness or discouragement, use your vision to jolt you back into the game. Successful people win consistently with discipline and diligence. Don’t allow short-term comfort (or discomfort) to impede your long-term success.

Empowering You for Success,

Paul Wilson

Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, customer service, discipline, Michael Jordan, sports

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Money Flows

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I’m sure many people have been puzzled over the last couple of weeks as to why Warren Buffettt would give nearly $31B of his fortune to Bill Gates (see article). What was he thinking? Why would the richest man in the world, who already has the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S., “need” more money from the second richest man in the world? I'm not here to debate whether or not this was the "right" thing to do. The fact is money flows to people with powerful ideas.

Powerful ideas are those that can be effectively implemented and produce measurable results. Many people can dream wonderfully creative ideas, but those ideas aren’t effective, because either they aren’t practical and/or there is no way to measure the resulting impact.

One of the key things that makes an idea powerful is the detailed plan that supports it. The difference between dreamers and visionaries is that dreamers think of great ideas, but visionaries follow through and develop a plan to implement their ideas. That’s why there are many dreamers and few visionaries.

People with money will invest it in those who have great ideas and sound plans. Sometimes this happens even before the plan has proven successful, because the investor has bought into the person behind the plan, whose character has been demonstrated through their discipline and diligence in developing their idea. That’s what the venture capital industry is built on – people and companies who invest in other people’s well-thought-out, well-defined ideas, affectionately referred to as a business plan.

Most people’s dreams never become a reality because there was no comprehensive plan to implement or execute it. If you want money to flow to your ideas, whether from customers or investors, there are a few simple steps that you need to follow:

  1. Spend some uninterrupted time visualizing what you are trying to accomplish. You can’t accomplish what you can’t see.
  2. Write down your idea. You have a much better chance of accomplishing the goals that you write on paper than the ones you just keep in your head.
  3. Develop an implementation/execution plan with milestones and deadlines. You demonstrate your character and commitment to your idea by taking the time to work on the plan.
  4. Gather trusted advisors who will give you an honest critique of your idea and plan. Find those who will help to refine your plan, not people who will automatically reject or accept what you have.
  5. Begin the journey, but don’t try to do everything at once. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a few small steps. Achieve a few small victories so that you can gain some momentum.

Don’t allow fear, complacency, lack of resources, or anything else to stop you from accomplishing your vision. If your idea is powerful and your plan is thorough, then the right people will come along at the right time and provide the right resources that you need to make it happen.

You can use this process whether you are in business or not. Remember, ideas get people excited, but plans mobilize people and resources to get things done. Just ask Bill Gates.

Empowering you for success,
Paul Wilson

Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, innovation, philanthropy , Bill Gates, Warren Buffett

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Independence Day

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Today as I am celebrating my first “independence” day from corporate America, I reflect back on the founding fathers of this country. We often are reminded of what they did and how they did it. What I am going to focus on is how they thought. Before anybody began to plan or execute the American Revolution, it first had to be a thought in someone’s mind. Understanding how they thought is critical to extracting relevant principles from what they did.

We need a revolution in our communities today. Just like the British government was oppressing the colonists, many people today are oppressed by poverty, drugs, homelessness, teen pregnancy, and many other forms of subjugation. In many cases people have allowed themselves to be enslaved to their pasts (mistakes, regrets), hopelessness, others’ expectations of them, or their current environment. Nevertheless, before people can be physically or emotionally free from these circumstances, they first have to be mentally free.

Freedom begins with a thought. The founding fathers began to aspire to and dream about freedom long before they ever attained it. That allowed them to have the initiative and motivation to plan the Revolution. One begins to change their environment or situation in their minds long before the change is actually realized. Mahatma Gandhi stated it very well, “The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. Freedom and slavery are mental states.” The moment that people resolve that they will no longer be victims of their circumstances, they can get on the path to changing their lives.

The ability to think/see beyond one’s current circumstances is an incredible asset. You who have made positive transitions out of oppressive conditions now have the responsibility to help others gain their freedom. Often, you will have to help those who are “visionally impaired” to see beyond their current environment into a future that is better and brighter.

I challenge you to start a revolution in your community. Don’t conform to “group think”, where everyone is stuck in the same negative mental ruts. Visualize a greater future for your community, write a plan, and put a deadline to it. Change the conversations by encouraging solutions rather than just complaining about problems. Engage other people in your plan who are also willing to challenge the status quo. Challenge yourself to do something different everyday that moves you closer to fulfilling your vision. Don’t let anything stop you before you reach your goal.

Don’t be a victim or a slave to your circumstances – free your mind! It’s time for you achieve your destiny and positively impact those around you.

Empowering Your for Success,

Paul Wilson

Tags: 4th of July, Independence Day, community development, empowerment, leadership, slavery, freedom

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