W is for Working Like A Winner Before You Can Be A Winner

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“People need to work like winners before they can be winners,” is a message given by many sports coaches. Similar principles apply in other fields.

Many talented athletes burn brightly in their early careers, for example, and are heralded as future stars. Some believe they have made it and think their natural talent will be enough to guarantee success.

Such athletes may then get a shock. Meeting competitors who are just as talented, they may need to draw on other reserves. They must then decide whether they are willing to ‘put in the hard yards’ required to achieve future success.

John Wooden, the great basketball coach, had ‘industriousness’ as the first building block in his Pyramid of Success. You can discover more via the link below, where he wrote the following definition.


Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.

In plain and simple English this means hard work. Very hard work.

There is no substitute for very hard work when it comes to success.

I have not known, heard of, or read about any individual anywhere who achieved real success without working extremely hard.  

In fact, the great successes we all know about are individuals who almost always have greatly outworked their competition.


There are obviously many have different definitions of winning. Some people say it is about following your principles and achieving your picture of success.

Some say it is about getting prizes. Some people follow their principles and, along the way, also get prizes.

Whichever definition is used, great workers believe it is vital to do their best each day. They are then more likely to achieve their definition of success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific person you admire who worked like a winner – they put in the hard yards – before they were recognised as a winner.

Describe the specific things they did to work like a winner before they were a winner.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of them taking this approach.

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There are many views about how people can work to achieve their goals.

During the past decade it has become popular, for example, to cite the need to do 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to achieve peak performance. Further research has shown that some people need fewer hours, however, whilst others need many more.

Matthew Syed has also made an excellent contribution with his book Bounce. He believes that champions are made, rather than born.

“But surely everything depends on your natural talent,” somebody may say.

“Not so,” says Matthew.

“How could it be that the street I grew up on in Reading, UK, produced more table tennis champions than the entire population of some countries?”

Below is an introduction to these ideas. You can learn more about Matthew’s work at his web site.


Some people argue that genes do play a part, however, but then comes the hard work.

Great workers often start by clarifying their picture of success. Bearing in mind their talents, they may aim to become the best kind of artist, athlete, nurse, designer or whatever they want to be.

Such workers then focus on the following steps when working to achieve their goals.


They prepare by clarifying the strategy they can follow to give themselves the greatest chance of success. They also bear in mind how they can build on their strengths – whilst managing the consequences of any weaknesses – when implementing this strategy.


They put in the work required to practice pursuing the strategies on the road to success. They also practice managing the potential challenges they may encounter along the way.


They perform superb work, find solutions to challenges and do their best to achieve success. They sometimes reach their goals by adding that touch of class.

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Looking to the future, can you think of a situation when you may want to put in hard work? You may want to write a book, make a film, create a beautiful garden, lead a challenging project or whatever.

What can you do to work like a winner before achieving your definition of winning? What might be the benefits – both for you and for other people?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to work hard.  

Describe the specific things you can do to put in the hard work. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of you doing such hard work.

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