Winning IS Everything


If you’ve ever played any sports or have kids who play sports, then you’ve heard the saying “winning isn’t everything.”  You’ve probably also noticed that it is usually said by the losing team.

That philosophy is fine when talking about school sports – losing is part of playing and part of learning sportsmanship.

There are times, though, when winning is everything.  Survival is one, whether it is in a literal sense, such as self-defense, or perhaps in a more ‘figurative’ sense, for example, keeping your livelihood alive – helping your business thrive.

There is no magic formula that will guarantee a win, but following these five steps will get you there 90% of the time.

  1. Determination – A lackadaisical attitude is a certain path to failure.  Whether dealing with management issues, fighting for self-defense or sports, attitude and mindset will drive the winner forward.  If you are not determined to succeed, you won't.  The Olympics are a great example.  Two top athletes will dedicate their lives to the sport, training hard and striving for that win.  Often only a fraction of a second will separate the top medal contenders and that determination and mindset is one aspect that the athlete can control to make that slight difference his or hers.
  2. Preparation – Lack of planning is an obvious way to fail.  However, it is easy to deceive yourself into thinking that you are prepared only to find in reality that the plan was lacking.  I like to think of preparation and planning in terms of cooking.  Planning is the equivalent of having a recipe.  It is the plan that will get you a good dinner.  For that plan to work, though, you need preparation.  You need to go to the store and buy groceries, pre-heat the stove, have the pans and dishes you need for the recipe and so on.  For self-defense, preparation means practicing and training to respond to various attacks.  For the workplace, preparation includes creating the right policies and procedures to deal with the various situations that arise.
  3. Execution – The ability to follow through on the planning and preparation is critical to success.  With the dinner example, stopping when half of the ingredients are mixed and walking away will not get a finished dinner on the table.  Lack of execution or inability to put the plan into action is just an ingredient for failure.  This is true for self-defense in several ways.  One way is to put everything into an attack to get a ‘knock-out’ punch.  Another is to keep the attack going until your attacker is stopped and you can escape.  For business leaders, execution comes in the form of making sure that expectations are being met.  If customer service is a key expectation (and it always should be) then a manager needs to be sure that everyone is trained and understands the expectations and performs as expected.
  4. Accountability – This is one that can sound strict or mean depending on the how it is used.  Good accountability means that employees will be measured on their success and improve where necessary.  Accountability is the setting of stringent criteria that are necessary to ensure success.  For martial art students, this may mean practicing forms until each piece, the footing, balance, kicks, punches and blocks are all done exactly as required, at which point they may be ready to move to the next belt level.  For businesses, leaders need to keep everyone on track to meet goals and hold individuals responsible to their actions.
  5. Act – It is easy to get bogged down by decisions or over-analysis of every detail.  Sometimes, the only element separating winners from losers is the simple fact that winners tried.  Going out and taking some action is more often than not better than doing nothing at all.  In self-defense situations, people tend to freeze if not fully prepared and that failure to respond can mean everything.  Taking some sort of defensive action against an attacker will through them off enough to escape and can mean the difference between life and death.  When it comes to your business, putting an advertisement out there will be more helpful than not, even if you’re not sure the ad is in the right publication or has the best copy write. 

There is one common theme with each of these tips.  You must have an underlying vision or goal that gives you the focus for your determination, guides your preparation, defines your execution, creates your accountability and gives you the motivation to act.  You can win by defining that view and following the steps above.  Winning is everything, but is up to you.

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.  To learn more email

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