How to be a Winner

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Jul 16, 2012 in , , | No Comments

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be a winner.

In Dana Hudepohl’s article, Unleash Your Inner Winner, (Fitness magazine), she states “…think and act like a champion and get every damn thing you want.” Is that possible? Let’s have a look…


Charlie Sheen took the word “winning” and turned it into something quite different than what we’re discussing here. Experts on the subject say winning comes from working hard–really hard. Just ask any one of the U.S. Olympians now readying themselves for the 2012 Summer Games in London. 

If you’re “winning” you are successful at doing something. Whether it’s working at a job, completing college, or running a race, if doing it well, you are a winner!

Winners stick it out in the face of adversity. They conquer their fears, which could hold them back from success. They stay focused on their purpose. “Grit” is what researchers at the University of Pennsylvania call this type of perseverance and passion, saying it’s the key to being a winner. They found college students with grit have higher GPA’s.

True Grit

Is it possible to develop grit? According to Timothy Gallwey, author of Inner Game, and star of a new coaching show premiering in August, it is possible. He states, “Ask yourself what you really want to win in life and you’ll get in touch with your thirst. Any loser can turn into a winner.” What it takes is ridding yourself of any doubts and insecurities, which isn’t always easy, especially in our competitive world.

Does being a winner always involve competing with someone else? Not necessarily.


Americans are a competitive bunch, there’s no doubt about that! We compete from the time we are small children to our dying day. From the first day in Kindergarten or elementary school, we learn about competition in the classroom–and on the playground at lunchtime. But, not all competition is good. Some psychologists are concerned we’ve created a monster (of sorts) being so competitive as a nation. One downside is people comparing themselves to others can feel inadequate and jealous.

A healthier type of competition is being competitive with yourself. Once you understand what you really want in life and set out to get it, in order to stay focused, you can’t be too concerned with what everyone around you is doing. Here’s where focus comes into play. Successful athletes look at what they are accomplishing. They’ve set their goals and focus on how they’ll reach them. How often do you see an athlete continually glance over their shoulder to see what a teammate is doing? It’s rare. They’re focused on what they are doing in the moment. Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball superwoman and Olympian says, “I’ve learned not to compare myself with other people. I want to be the best I can be, not necessarily better than you. That’s pretty liberating.”

Is there a difference between men and women when it comes to competition? According to Muriel Niederle, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at Stanford there is a difference between the sexes. Dr. Niederle has studied gender differences in competitive settings and found women don’t get the same rush out of competing men do. Why? Research shows women are less confident in their own abilities, “Everyone has doubts, women have more,” states Dr. Niederle. She advises women “Don’t quit before trying.” I’ll add, start believing more in yourself!

Necessary Goals

Scott Huettel, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, believes we can’t process large goals, we have to break them down so our brains can process them. We have a “reward center” in our brain which needs to feed on a lot of little wins to keep it activated.

I wrote a blog post in March, Success: A First Victory Transforms, which discusses how super athletes–and mere mortals–benefit from past “wins” or successes in life. You can see yourself progressing on your path, that’s rewarding in itself.

Release Stress

Researcher Pranjal Mehta, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Oregon found the stress hormone cortisol interferes with performance. But life is stressful, how can you focus on being a winner if you’re stressed out? Be mindful of your breathing, close your eyes, quieting the busyness in your mind, acknowledge what you’re thinking without judging it.

Take good care of yourself physically too. Street drugs, binge drinking and partying till you drop creates it’s own type of stress on the body. A proper diet is important, eating the wrong foods can create stress on the brain, heart and liver (especially). The strain of a high fat diet, or inadequate diet, can limit your performance at work, in school and on the field.

We all have the potential to be winners in our own lives. What one thing can you do today to start down the road to winning?


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