Want to Win? Don’t Quit

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Stay the course...Play to win.Since we’re about to flip the calendar to September, and are rapidly approaching Q4, I thought I’d provide a bit of motivation to help focus your efforts for the remainder of 2009.  While it has likely been a tough year for most of you reading this week’s column, I’m not going to patronize you by putting my kid gloves on. The text that follows is not likely to please the politically correct…I’m not going to talk about competing or playing nicely, rather I’m going to address the topic of winning…Want to succeed? It’s easier than you might think…just don’t quit. Strip away the excuses, rationalizations, and justifications and the only thing standing between you and the attainment of your objectives, is what you see staring back at you when you look in the mirror each morning…

As I talked about in last week’s column, the economy is only an excuse for those who won’t do what it takes to succeed. I’m a big fan of the “Die Hard” movies, and if you’re like me, the thing you have to admire about the main character, detective John McClain (played by Bruce Willis), is that regardless of the obstacles he encounters, he just won’t quit. Granted, the aforementioned example of determination against all odds comes from a fictional character, but the fact of the matter is that successful people play to win. They don’t indulge themselves in half-hearted attempts destined for failure, rather they choose to focus all their efforts and energies on accomplishing their mission. 

My first football coach used to say: “Don’t even bother showing up if you’re not going to play to win…” Mind you I tend to be a bit competitive, but even so, that phrase has stuck with me my entire life. I don’t often bother with taking on an endeavor unless I plan to accomplish the task at hand, and that means not quitting until I meet the objective. It is that “refuse to lose” and “never say die” attitude that I picked-up on the playing field, and had further reinforced during my time in the military that provides me with a competitive advantage.

I have found that dedication, determination, attention to detail, commitment and focus are the traits that have been most valuable to me throughout the years, and are therefore the strengths that I tend to play to. The good news is this…if you examine the aforementioned traits, you’ll quickly see that I possess no special skill and I have no secret tricks up my sleeve. Rather the things that have allowed me to serve my clients well, are things that anyone can harness and leverage if they have one thing…the desire to do so.

I could certainly paint a more complex picture of what it takes to be successful by citing esoteric management theories, but the truth of the matter is that I just don’t quit until I get the job done. I don’t spend my time complaining about the challenges and obstacles, rather I spend my time solving problems and creating solutions. If my objective is to get to the other side of the wall, I don’t really care if I go over the wall, under the wall, around the wall or through the wall…I just care that I get to the other side. While I might spend a bit of time evaluating the most efficient strategy for getting to the other side of said wall, it will ultimately be my focus on the tactical execution of conquering the challenge that will determine my success. A bias toward action is always a better path than falling prey to analysis paralysis.

I once played an entire half of a football game with a broken ankle, early on in my first entrepreneurial venture I found myself at a critical nexus and chose to liquidate personal assets to meet payroll, I’ve gone as many as 4 days in a row without sleeping to stay the course and solve a critical issue, I’ve led teams to achieve things that others said couldn’t be accomplished, I’ve kept my family a priority having raised two wonderful children and having been married for 25 years and the list could go on…My point in describing these actions is not to pat myself on the back for anyone could have done these things, but the reality is that most people don’t. They choose to accept defeat…they don’t play to win…They aren’t willing to do what it takes to be successful…They quit. 

Quitting is a temptation that all of us are consistently confronted with. The reason that so many people become a casualty of giving up, is because they can. Put simply, quitting is one of the easiest things to do in life. If you take your eye off the ball, even if only momentarily, all it takes for most people to throw in the towel is a tinge of anger, humiliation, panic, rejection, stress, frustration, hurt, pain, jealousy, sorrow or anguish. Look back on your live, or the lives of others, and you’ll find numerous instances of people who took the easy way out and just quit. You’ll also find that it is those people who stayed the course, who overcame the challenges and barriers, and who stayed the course that have succeeded in life.

My message to you for the balance of 2009 is simply this: Play to win…Define your vision, refine your mission, architect your strategy, identify your objectives, set your goals, implement your tactics and initiate your processes. Stay focused and do not quit until you’ve met your objectives…May your passion become your purpose, and I wish you the best of success as we close out 2009.

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