Warriors or Winners

An exert from a great article at: http://changingthegameproject.com/developing-warriors-not-winners-path-excellence/

youth soccer playersWe have lost sight of true development. We have redefined success in a very poor way. As a result, we are so fixed on outcomes that we have a generation of “empty winners” when what we need is a generation of “tenacious warriors.”

Let me explain the difference between Winners and Warriors. Once you see the value of a Warrior Culture for your team or club, you will understand why I was disturbed by that coach’s actions in the parking lot that fateful day. Sadly, some of my feelings stem from my own singular focus on winning very early in my career. I recall my fist pumps and trophy kisses along my path of growth. I also remember quite well the times I bragged about “never having a losing season.” What an unfortunate mindset, and at what cost to my players back in the day?

In a values-based, purpose-driven team or mindset winning is not the focus, but the expectedly pleasant by-product. It is not “wanted” as the main desire but simply expected as something that may happen if things are done right. Winning and losing are both mere waypoints on the journey and both should be viewed with the same desire to learn from and grow from them.

Winning is also not the ultimate goal, but a simple step along the path in the ever-ascending journey to excellence.

Warrior cultures are not teaching winning; they are teaching competing.

Warrior cultures set themselves apart by how they view, approach, and even deal with winning. It is not the goal. It is part of the journey. It is accepted humbly and then they move on to the next day.

Great parents and coaches know that all warriors are winners, but not all winners are warriors.

That is worth repeating: all warriors are winners, but not all winners are warriors. The simple commitment to personal excellence, high standards, and an ethereal quest to be better than the day before makes a warrior a winner.

Breaking rules, taking shortcuts, using others for your gain, and finding the easy route that guarantees victory makes a person a winner, but it certainly makes no warrior. It is important that we strive each and every moment we educate to create true warriors in our children. Persons who live by unbending values, who cherish the challenge, who respect the nature of competition and who run headlong into the quest for excellence. We are obligated to intentionally create those kinds of players in every moment…even the solitary ones in parking lots.

It takes a certain set of traits and beliefs to develop warriors, but if you are deliberate you can create warriors in all your athletes. Here is a guide for knowing how to create warriors not winners on your team:

  • Warriors are purpose-driven WHILE winners are trophy-driven. While winners seek the terminal moment on the podium with an object that will someday be rusty, dusty and sold at a garage sale, the warriors are driven by some inner purpose that stems from a need to seek excellence in all they do. Master the self and you will find real victory.
  • Warriors are internally motivated WHILE winners are externally motivated. It stands to reason, if you seek trophies, you seek something outside of you. Your drive is motivated by some external need that may be out of your control and is certainly not owned by you. Warriors, on the other hand, are driven by some inner quest. They wake up each morning starting fresh to make a better person than the day prior. Like New Zealand All Blacks legend Richie McCaw who writes “Start Again” in his journal each new day. This has nothing to do with the world outside of him and has everything to do with the world inside his soul…something he alone can own.
  • Warriors have a growth mindset WHILE winners have a fixed mindset. I like to use the term I coined during my Masters Thesis to describe a winner’s fixed mindset – American Idol Syndrome. He spends his entire life thinking he is special and endowed by some great being to win since the day he graced this planet. One day he loses and what follows is an epic meltdown, like on American Idol when Simon Cowell would insult some would-be singer, “but momma always said I was the best!” A winner doesn’t see the loss as part of growth and a waypoint on the journey. He simply melts down and turns back to the journey. Steph Curry and his team lost a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals and instead of tossing a colossal fit, they saw it as a chance to get better. They know losing is part of the journey and the only thing to do at the hands of a loss is to grow.
  • Warriors are process-oriented WHILE winners are outcome-oriented. Winners always seem to have an eye on the end-game. They will cut a corner during training to get to the finish line first. They focus on the arrival instead of the journey. When we constantly have one eye on the goal, we only have one eye on the path. It is easy to take a misstep that way. Warriors embed themselves in the process. For them, the arrival is merely another moment along that journey and what is most important is keeping both eyes directly focused on the path itself. This creates a mastery mindset in warriors. The focus on each and every step means mastery of the journey itself. Returning to Steph Curry as an example of a warrior, even as the reigning three-point leader, he went into the 2015 offseason focused on honing his shooting skill even more. He was so intensely committed to the process, he shattered the single season three-point numbers the following year.
  • Warriors are values-based WHILE winners are glory-based. A winner’s core mission tends the o be glory. If you judge success only by the number of trophies, you are a glory seeker. You tend to base your own existence, happiness, and core mission on how many trinkets you collect and how much glory you can have heaped on you. Glory feeds the ego, the ego disconnects who we are from why we are. In other words, we stop chasing that why, that inescapable passion to follow our life purpose and grow our soul. Instead, we chase those things that grow our ego. We become bigger than life, and more important than the world around us. Warriors feed the soul with all they do. They do it because they are rooted in strong values that remind them of why they do what they do. The New Zealand All Blacks provide a great example of values-based warriors. All they do is rooted in the beliefs that better people make better All Blacks, that they should plant trees they may never see, that they should leave the jersey in a better place. For them, it is about serving the world with their unshakeable purpose and leaving an imprint that is bigger than themselves. It is about creating a legacy of excellence for generations to come. Seek values and you battle for something greater than glory or a trophies, you battle for something greater than you. You battle for a legacy of excellence.

3 thoughts on “Warriors or Winners

  1. Thanks Brett. Great article. You’re doing a great job and i find these really helpful. I think that being process focused rather outcome focused is super important. As is ones ability to facilitate intrinsic motivation. Would love a blog about how to do that.


  2. Nice article Bretta – good stuff mate and go you mighty 45C Warriors! Pix methinks that the “Woronora River Warriors” would be more apt. Cheers K


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