This may sound awful but I remember my daughter receiving her first participation trophy for being a member of a soccer team. She was excited, and I complimented her on her effort and commitment to the team. But I was quick to share that when she won a trophy for either being on a winning team or winning something individually, she would never want another participation trophy. My prediction was later proven true. Her shelf is filled with awards for both academic and extracurricular achievements. Her participation trophies are somewhere in a closet.
We need to want to win in business. Let me say that one more time you need to want to have the best business in its marketplace. Jack Welch former CEO of General Electric once said, “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” This competitive mindset led him to insist that any division that was not either first or second in the world, within his given time period, would be eliminated. If we started every business with the attitude that we cannot be the best or a close second, the amount of failures would be reduced significantly.
That is why I coach clients to research and create a competitive edge. The edge has to be real. Either you excel in one area, or you provide something that the competition cannot. I never encourage people to start with an edge of quality service or rock bottom prices. Those aren’t real to me. Every business needs to be the best in service, and a lower price doesn’t always lead to sales or success. Apple has a winner’s attitude–at least when Steve Jobs was running the company. Just look at the emails he wrote when winning Harper Collin’s exclusive commitment to publishing on iTunes. He could lay out why Apple was set to win in the end, while Amazon could only offer a short term edge. Jobs was bent on dominating his major opponent and the publisher went with him.
Can you be a winner? No one goes for second best when making a big decision and feels good about it. Just think of all the entrepreneurs that started out as underdogs or played sports. They were competitive and loved the fight up from the bottom. Sebastian Coe, Olympic champion, politician and businessman wrote for the Telegraph:
Those with a winning mentality are often more prepared to listen to criticism and do things in a new way. It can take courage to set yourself apart from the crowd. Choosing to do things differently can be mistaken for arrogance but, in reality, taking a new approach is often born simply of a compulsion to keep driving forwards.
Winner’s have confidence, but that doesn’t come from nothing. They know how to deal with the unpredictable. They have overcome heartbreak and failure. They have worked alone and as a team, but they never quit or said “good enough.” They are champions.
And when winners succeed, this is what they say. “I never won anything by myself. I was always strong because of help that gave me extra strength to win.” –Dan Gable, Wrestling coach of Iowa University.