1-Sentence-Summary: Winners: And How They Succeed draws on years of research and extensive interviews with a wide array of successful people to deliver a blueprint for what it takes to win in life based on strategy, leadership and team-building.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Recently, I’ve been sending out a motivational video with the Four Minute Books newsletter every Saturday. One of my favorites has been one that encourages you to do what is hard. It makes a very simple distinction between those, who are successful in life, and those, who aren’t: winners win and losers lose.
What is meant by that is that for elite performers, doing exceptional work is the norm. They’ve made it part of their identity, not by deciding to be exceptional, but by deciding to work hard every day.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you decide to be one. And then you are. Not by some external standard, but simply by showing up to do the work of an entrepreneur, every day. That’s it. The moment you make that decision, you decide to be a winner.
This book is about making that decision. Here are 3 lessons about winners:
- Winners have three tools in their belt: strategy, objectives and tactics.
- Winners are so afraid of losing that they’ll gladly be uncomfortable to avoid it.
- In a crisis, winners forget about everything they can’t control.
Are you pumped to be a winner? I am! Let’s turn ourselves into winners!
Lesson 1: The three tools of winners are strategy, objectives and tactics.
Alastair Campbell, the author of this book, has picked out three things that all winners have in hand at all times:
- A realistic objective.
- A solid strategy.
- A set of tactics.
The objective is your goal. The tournament you want to win, the amount of weight you want to lose, the monthly income you want to make. It’s important that this objective is both specific and realistic. Don’t say you want to “get thinner,” say you want to “lose 15 pounds.” But not 50. Only having a realistic objective will allow you to pick a good strategy for it.
The strategy is the long-term “how” of winning. You can’t change your strategy from one day to the next, or it becomes useless. For example, if you want to exercise more and eat less, decide to stick to that mantra for the next six months. Don’t switch to sleeping more or other strategies after a week.
Lastly, subordinate to a strategy are the tactics you pick to implement your strategy. For example for exercising more, you could create a gym schedule that includes three 1-hour sessions every week and for eating less you could cap your calories at 2,000 every day. Those tactics are the small steps you take every day and week and are subject to change a lot.
As long as a tactic works for implementing your strategy in a way that gets you closer to your objective, keep doing it. But once it stops, drop it and try the next one, without changing the strategy.
Lesson 2: Winners are so terrified of losing that they’re happy to get uncomfortable to avoid it.
Most people spend most of their lives in this preliminary stage of wanting. They say they want something, but they really just want to want it. What does this mean?
It means they desire it enough to claim they want it, but they don’t want it bad enough that it hurts not to work for it. For them, the pain of doing it is still bigger than the pain of not doing it.
To become a winner, you have to reach and cross this threshold of pain. In the summer of 2000, Michael Phelps was ready to compete in the Olympics. He felt ready in every way. Physically, mentally, emotionally. He even got on the team, but only started in the 200 m butterfly category, where he ended up fifth.
Having missed his only shot at an Olympic medal thus far, he was terrified of not being given the chance to try again. He could not stand the thought of losing, so he went back and worked even harder than before, winning eight medals (six gold, two bronze) at the next summer Olympics in 2004.
If you still feel like you’re too comfortable, like life just feels too much like you’re winning already and that losing isn’t a threat, get yourself under pressure.
Ditch that comfort zone of yours, think of your next, big, potential loss, and let that drive you to take action!
Lesson 3: When a crisis happens, winners block out everything they can’t control.
We use the word “crisis” too liberally. When your hair won’t look the part, that’s not a crisis. Neither is Trump calling Hillary “the devil,” or when your favorite pizza place doesn’t deliver after 10 PM.
But when a US president sleeps with one of his interns, that’s a crisis. The difference between a fake crisis, and a real crisis, like this one, is that a real crisis can bring you to rock bottom, if you get overwhelmed by it and make the wrong decisions.
So how do you call the right shots in times like this? You block out everything that’s out of your control and focus on the few things you can actually influence. In doing so, you’re taking a Stoic approach to things, and that’s exactly what Clinton did.
He had no control over the media or the reactions of the public when his affair was publicized, but he could keep doing his job, for example by keeping up conversations with Tony Blair about the Russian nuclear arm situation. Clinton still ended up getting impeached at the very end, but he still managed the situation as best as he could.
When shit hits the fan, don’t try to control where it flies. Turn off the fan and start wiping.
My personal take-aways
Winners win and losers lose. There are a million ways to win. Whether the ones outlined in this book work for you or not is up to you to decide. But having a sense of how winners approach their work on a high level helps – for sure. If anything, this book is really inspiring to do the hard work that’s always, always needed to win. Winners win. And losers lose. Ready to decide?
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How two great politicians are good leaders in completely different ways
- Why a soccer team with 11 clones would suck
- The three parts of a great team
- How Garry Kasparov lost his world championship title
- What you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd
Who would I recommend the Winners: And How They Succeed summary to?
The 15 year old long-time member of the swim team, the 39 year old PR manager, who has to deal with real crises on a regular basis, and anyone who feels in their gut that they’re not reaching their full potential yet.