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How to Win Every Day

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"Winning starts here" may be a Nike slogan, but it has broad implications for anyone running a business.


In sports, winning doesn't merely occur at the finish line: it starts in early mornings at the gym, in choosing spinach over ice cream and in pushing ourselves to do another rep when we're sure we can't. In business, when we define the win as one outcome -- a sale, an innovation, or reaching a quarterly goal, for example -- our definition is too narrow. It creates a culture where we "fail" more than we succeed. Creating an environment where you and your team can win every day allows you to build on previous successes and improve morale.

There are 260 workdays a year. Consider a car salesperson who sells four or five cars a month. At 48 sales a year, she "fails" the other 212 days. Similarly, a realtor may sell two houses a month, or 24 in a year, which means he "fails" more than 90 percent of the time.

This is overwhelming for even the most dedicated person. We must create a culture where we can celebrate every day. We must redefine the win.

Related: Lessons on Leadership Inspired by "American Sniper'

Instead of focusing on the sale, consider all the behaviors (such as having an engaging conversation with a potential prospect, taking an opportunity to present the company's brand, or making an initial contact with a future prospect) that lead to that victory. Since they lead to the sale, they are part of the win.

It's not just salespeople who benefit from this culture. Every department should consider the ways they add value to the organization.

Take the 30-day challenge:

  1. Make a list of 100 activities or accomplishments that can be defined as a win every day.

  2. Print up a calendar and, for 30 days, write at least one thing from the list in each of the calendar days.

  3. Create a Win Every Day huddle plan where you talk about how you "won" the day before. Share your successes.

  4. See what happens to your team's success in the 30 days.

When you feel like you're in control, you feel confident -- and confidence is key to continued success. It's much easier to continue a winning streak than it is to fight out of a slump. Create your list of "winning" activities to empower yourself and/or your team.

Related: 3 Tweaks in Thinking That Turn a Goal Set Into a Goal Achieved

Leaders have to communicate to the team that they are just as proud of the team for doing the activity as they are for the sale. Making the goal about doing the behaviors in their control, rather than achieving the outcome, makes coaching more productive, too.

Instead of making employees feel bad because they haven't achieved the end result, ask them if they've been doing the behaviors in their control. If they haven't, you can have a conversation about them not walking in their full potential. You can say, "I hired you because I know you're capable."

A football team that only celebrates the Super Bowl championship is going to see themselves as losers most of the time. There wouldn't be the end result without a coach recognizing the increased passing yards and the developing teamwork or without individuals doing extra reps.

The same is true in business. Our brains can't hold both certainty and shame at the same time, so if we're feeling shame about not "winning," then we can't go back into the game confidently. When we wrongly define a "win," we unknowingly set ourselves, our salespeople, and our business partners up for failure and discouragement. On the other hand, when we put "winning" into our control, we can have 260 winning days a year.

Nike's slogan reminds us that the victory isn't won in a day. It shouldn't be celebrated in a day, either.

Related: 3 Warren Buffett Quotes Your Business Should Live By

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