1 April 2020
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What do Jeff Bezos, Ash Barty and Tony Robbins have in common?

Who didn’t feel good about the victory of Ash Barty at the French Open last weekend? And who didn’t think if only Nick Kyrgios had a Barty attitude, he too could be a grand slam winner?

It got me thinking about winners and losers. I recall when our guys were at school, the headmaster banned people calling others “losers!” I supported the head’s intention but I have become concerned about my observation that nowadays it’s becoming politically incorrect to make too much out of winners!

Winners aren’t by definition good or nice people but they do serve as role models for what’s achievable, and, generally, they either inspire us to greater efforts and heights or piss us off because they do what we can’t or won’t.

Let’s look at what winners say about winners and losers to see if it can inspire us to adopt winning ways.

I figure a great place to start is looking at the richest person in the world — Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whose fortune is said to be a cool $116 billion. Now that stat alone proves this guy is a winner.

CNBC recently looked at Jeff’s playbook for winning and success. He thinks being passionate about what you want to achieve is essential.

“You must have some passion for the arena that you’re going to develop and work in, otherwise you’ll be competing against those who do have passion for that, and they’re going to build better products and services,” Bezos said at Amazon’s re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on June 6 this year.

He also advises that you need to be a ‘missionary’. “Missionaries build better products and services — they always win,” said Bezos. “Mercenaries are just trying to make money, and paradoxically the missionaries always end up making more money.”

Like the great ice hockey star, Wayne Gretzky, he adheres to the view that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!” He says you have to take risks and be prepared to cop failure. Few of us remember Jeff’s mistakes such as Amazon’s Restaurants which are on death row, his closed Pop-up stores and does anyone remember his Dash Buttons?

“What really matters is, companies that don’t continue to experiment, companies that don’t embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence,” he told Business Insider in 2014.

And unlike Margaret Thatcher, who famously once said “the lady’s not for turning”, Jeff has no problem changing his mind.

“What I have found that people who are right change their mind even without getting new data. They have the same data set that they had at the beginning, but they wake up and they reanalyze things all the time and they come to a new conclusion and then they change their mind.” (CNBC)

In fact, people who win, typically have worked hard to recognise what beliefs or biases they hold and “actively try to look for evidence that disconfirms them,” Bezos said.

One guy who has built a billion dollar empire by being devoted to how people win is Anthony Robbins. When he looked at the psychology of a winner, he reduced it down to an important message: “Change your psychology. Achieve unstoppable success.”

We all find reasons to not win or lose. It’s a money problem, a support issue, a negativity thing and there’s always the “I just don’t have the time” excuse.

The biggest obstacle to success, Robbins argues, is YOU.

“The reality is, it all comes down to mindset,” he says. “Leaders like Ariana Huffington, Bill Gates and Serena Williams have been able to find unparalleled success because they took control of their mindset and focused on the psychology of winning instead of concentrating on potential failures.”

He subscribes to the view that success in life “is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics — what you do doesn’t matter if you aren’t in the right mindset.”

I’ve interviewed Robbins and have seen him on stage numerous times and the recurring theme is — you have a story that works for or against you. Losers or strugglers with life are often beaten down by a story that has dogged them their whole life and Robbins insists the highest priority goal is to change that damn story!

This requires focus and an objective understanding of what’s holding you back and then what you’re going to do to change that. Often a hard look at yourself will tell you that you need help if things are going to change. This is where experts like life coaches, dieticians, psychiatrists, accountants, business coaches, financial planners and so on might be needed to change the mindset and the related practices that explain your poor results.

At his conferences, Robbins berates us to stay motivated and to think positively. If you start believing that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, you’ll prove yourself right, is his bottom line promise. But you have to commit to the F-word for focus.

My favourite motivational line of all time is one you might have seen me use many times in this Weekend column and it comes from that great tennis player Chris Evert, who explained her success this way: “There were times when deep down I wanted to win so badly, I could actually will it to happen. I think most of my career was based on desire.”

Just think about the importance of being focused on winning, like Chrissie and know that Robbins believes, “where focus goes, energy flows” and I reckon success isn’t too far behind.

Americans love their basketball and revere the coaching exploits of the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. Wikipedia summed up his achievements this way: “John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball player and head coach at the University of California, Los Angeles. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” he won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a row.”

That’s a success show that few coaches could come close to. He was famous for his KISS — keep it simple stupid — approach but he would never have called anyone “stupid”. He believed in creating a team of talented but good, solid citizens. I’m sure someone like Nick Kyrgios could have benefitted from being influenced by this old-fashioned coach/leader.

His team were told to:

  • Always be on time.
  • Be neat and clean.
  • Don’t use profanity.
  • Never criticize a teammate.
  • Have patience.
  • Have faith that things will work out if we do what we’re supposed to do.
  • Don’t whine, complain or make excuses.
  • Do your best.

But he also had a bagful of inspirational quotes to ensure his team had a winning mindset.

Consider some of these:

  • “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”
  • “Failure is not fatal but failure to change might be.”
  • It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

And I love this one: “Reputation is what you are perceived to be and character is what you really are.”

Wooden not only won championships, he helped to make champions. It was focus on the little things (that most of us ignore) that helped him weld together a champion team over and over again.

The great US basketball and LA Lakers player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who experienced racism at UCLA as a convert to Islam, underlined how special Wooden was as a maker of great people and sports stars: “I could feel the difference whenever I went to sit with him in his den,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote of the latter stage of the relationship. “Before, it had felt like I was visiting a friend. Now it felt like I was coming home.”

Ash Barty has climbed an enormous mountain winning the French Open and has progressed like few youngsters worldwide. I suspect her story one day will help others approach greatness provided they really want it. deep down. and they then choose to hang out with the right people.

A friend recently reflected on the words her Dad once gave her. He said: “You can see your future in five years’ time by looking at who you’re spending time with today.”

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