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Attitude, Habits, the Mind of a Champion - Winning in Your Business

Achieving success starts by changing our behaviors and mindsets


So you sometimes feel like you need direction — or maybe a swift kick in the pants? Maybe you need to be inspired — in your feed and grain job or maybe in your personal life. Do you want to be successful? Maybe you experience potential or real setbacks. How do you view these challenges or setbacks and how do you respond?

Robert Collier, author of “Riches within Your Reach,” states “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in, and day out.” Sometimes it takes a lot of repetitions to get something right, done well or sometimes even just done. What is your mindset in this kind of situation? Is it that of a champion — or that of being a failure or quitter? Sound harsh? Think what’s in your mind does not matter? Think again. Think your habits do not matter? Think again.

Your thoughts and energy impact your performance and they also impact the people around you. Positive thoughts create positive energy; negative thoughts generate negative energy. So, avoid or stop the negative and focus on the positive.

Even already knowing this, at times, we are all looking for some additional inspiration. We recently found our latest boost in the book “Finish First: Winning Changes Everything” by Scott Hamilton,

Olympic gold medalist in skating and cancer survivor. Coupled with some thoughts and notes on habits, our column this month hopes to encourage you to reconsider your approach to your manager’s role in your business.

Success comes in various sizes

It is probably safe to say that we all want to be successful in some way, shape or form. What is success? What is winning? Is it getting promoted, getting a bonus, making a sale or even not getting fired? Is it learning to do something new or getting employees to do their jobs well or better than in the past? Is it increasing morale of your staff? Yes, yes, and yes, all of these can be success and winning.

You don’t have to bring home an Olympic gold medal to “win” or to be excellent or to have success. Think about your goals for your manager’s position in your business and think about your goals for the business. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your business and your personnel? What is your vision for using and building on these strengths and for improving or managing the weaknesses?

Success and excellence can come in many shapes and sizes. As a manager, one of the important challenges for you is to identify goals for yourself, your business and your employees. And, you cannot just identify these goals, you must commit to doing the work to achieve them. You may be familiar with the expression “all in.” To give yourself the best shot at being successful, you must go “all in” related to your commitment. You must also get your people to go “all in” as well. We could write an entirely separate column on this topic and the culture of your business (see the book “All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton), but this issue we will stay mostly focused on using your mind and behavior to achieve wins and success, whether large or small.

Scott Hamilton talks about how he did not have real success until he completely committed to being successful. That meant not just showing up and going through the motions, but making the choices and sacrifices to become a winner.

Break the pattern

In his book, Hamilton talks about a pattern of losing, and how he had that pattern of losing. For you as a manager, this might be a pattern of not doing your best work — this might be not making timely decisions, addressing staffing issues, addressing staff performance issues, providing quality customer service or being productive in your office. Hamilton says losing is easier and more comfortable for many people; less is expected of those who lose. At times in his career, little was expected of him by both himself and by others. He also says when you expect to lose, then for the most part, that happens. If you see yourself as someone who constantly loses, then most likely those are the results you are going to get. Once again, positive thoughts create positive energy; negative thoughts generate negative energy.

Nowhere is this winning mentality and mindset more clear than in youth wrestling. My son (Christine Wilson) began wrestling at age five; he is now 13 and just shy of 500 career wins. He’s had some losses too. An influential time for him occurred in his second year while wrestling at the state tournament. He had just turned seven and most of the kids in his bracket were eight or nine. In prepping for his quarterfinals match, I could see he was scared and did not believe enough in himself. The other kid was older, more experienced, and known to be good. My son had already lost the match if he walked out on the mat scared and not believing that he could win. In short, I gave him my best mental pep talk and some really tough love. It was a difficult match but he won, and this helped build the mentality that he could and would do it; he could win and beat anyone if he chose to believe.

The semifinals match would be tough too with a similar opponent scenario. Same pep talk; another win. On to the championship with again a similar scenario, but this time he lost in a very close match (maybe on a coach’s position choice error by his dad, but who really remembers or can say), but he believed he could win and fought hard the entire time. People rise to the expectations that you have for them and that you have for yourself. Expect little and that is what you will likely get. Expect a lot and you improve the likelihood of getting it.

This is what Scott Hamilton is saying too. Expect to win and you might, expect to lose and you will. Break your pattern of either not expecting to or not thinking you can do something and being fully committed to getting it done.

Show up and work

A quote often credited to famous football coach Vince Lombardi, which we have been using with students for many years, is: “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.” Hamilton talks about injury, losing, losing motivation, underperforming and not training seriously. Further, he shares how the less than ideal circumstances that you face in your work or life can be the nudge you need to keep showing up, to keep working on what you want to achieve and what you want to accomplish.

What is less than ideal in your job? What do you need to do to change that? It might not be easy. It might take many repetitions. It might take doing something different on your part in order to get different results. If you are doing the same thing over and over and not getting the results you desire, maybe you need to make a change of some kind. In fact, an often quoted definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The point is — change things up a bit to change the potential results.

For Scott Hamilton, showing up and doing the work meant showing up all of the time for practice and showing up fully in mind, body and spirit. It meant not making excuses. It meant focusing on work during work time — skating practice for him. As a manager, this might mean not taking a long lunch and not letting others distract you from your work with activities that take you away either physically or mentally.

Hamilton says that “… successful people put in the time. They are willing to do the work.” Further, he says that you can have anything, but you can’t have everything. We would agree. You have to make choices — your time and other resources are limited. So, are you holding yourself and your employees accountable for showing up, doing the work and working up to potential? Do you have an employee who is underperforming? Maybe what they need is for you to truly hold them accountable in order for them to perform to their greatest potential. Have you let them know you believe in them? Have you let them know you know they have more potential than they’re exhibiting? This might be what it takes to help them make a change.

Form successful habits

Forming successful habits can help you be successful and this approach can help you help employees be successful. Stopping bad habits or habits that distract from successful activities is also valuable. Scott Hamilton made changes to his habits that led to him being a better skater. Some of his habits were in his actions and some were in how he thought.
Charles Duhigg in his book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” discusses why habits exist and how we can change them, providing many examples and results from several studies. (We covered the value of good habits in our April/May 2015 Manager’s Notebook Column: “Valuable Habits for Effective Managers and Employees”.) Habits are a process that consist of cues, a routine and rewards.

If you want to change a habit of your own or in someone else, don’t expose yourself or the other person to the triggering cue, then the habit will not happen. You can use cues to trigger good habits and you can avoid cues that trigger bad habits. Cues are typically associated with locations, time, emotions, other people or a last action.

One of the best examples of removing cues that signal bad habits is with food. Do you find yourself snacking or eating unhealthy food? Then remove that food and the possibility from your environment – don’t buy it, don’t have it at home and don’t bring it to work. You can’t eat what you don’t have. This makes it easier for you to not follow a bad habit. Do you have a colleague or employee who comes by your office at a certain time of day and who takes too much of your time? The cue for them might be the time of day, the routine is that you are there and they take your time and the reward for them might be getting your time. If you take away some or all of the reward or you take away the cue, then you can change the habit. Set activities for that time for the employee, set other meetings that take away the employee’s or your availability.

Final thoughts

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

How badly do you want to be successful in your job? How badly do you want your employees to be successful, and further, your business to be a successful? Have you decided to be successful? Have you made up your mind to believe in yourself and to not quit? Have you made up your mind to believe in positive outcomes, to hold yourself and others accountable to do the work? Once you do these things, you will have taken steps in the right direction to use the attitude, habits and mind of a champion. Then, follow through, execute and achieve the success and “wins” that you seek. ❚

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