Justifying Losing


“Winners and losers are self-determined. But only the winners are willing to admit it.” – John Wooden 

John Wooden, the man above won ten national championships in twelve years at UCLA. An extraordinary accomplishment that falls on the deaf ears of the blue blooded sophisticates and is too quickly dismissed because the achievement occurred on the hardwood and not within the confines of Wall Street or the ivory towers of the academy. I see it every day with corporate clients, they shelve the philosophies of individuals like Wooden, Saban, Lombardi, and Coach K who have “DONE IT” and dismiss them as “meatheads” then bow to the advice and wisdom of so called sages that sit in a quaint office and write theory on how to lead. These so called “sages”scribe theories because they are unable to write “experiences.” Call me a simpleton, but I’ll place my leadership bets on an individual who has done it (and failed) over the one that can wax eloquently on a topic and has mastered the art of grammar.

Both winners and losers are at the mercy of self-determination….  it is an irrefutable law.

Friedrich Nietzsche, another one of those “did more thinking than doing” guys, stated “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”  Despite the veracity of Nietzsche’s now famous quip, the probability of experiencing anything that affords us this opportunity to experience the positive outcomes of near-death experiences don’t readily present themselves unless we artificially push ourselves to determine what is possible and flirt with our own unprecedented limits. Who does this? The one-percenters and world class do and they do so habitually.

Like it or not, one of the overarching characteristics of the world class is their incessant and insatiable drive for perfection. We fully comprehend the irrationality of absolute perfection, the world class pursue it anyway. Flawless execution requires a committed compulsion; a price that only a small number of individuals are willing to pay. It is the reason the top 1% in music, sports, business, politics, and in life are called the “one percenters.”  Our desires, our visions, dictate our daily habits and we calibrate our expectations accordingly. No wonder, Jerry Rice said, “Today I will do what others will not do so tomorrow I can do what others cannot do.”

Good and bad decisions, high and low standards, lofty or dismal expectations, healthy, unhealthy, disciplined or undisciplined…Every one of these small decisions require a price and generate a consequence. The simple question is not whether you will pay a price, it is simply just a matter of when. 

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