We’ve all seen winners in our personal and professional lives. They are the determined ones with a strong resolve and unwavering sense of purpose in everything they do. Always able to face challenges and adapt to change, winners see adversity and defeat as minor and temporary setbacks, recovering with an even stronger, more steadfast desire to win. They never wallow on the path of self-pity and consistently manage to stay focused on their ultimate objective. Winners are leaders with a mission, and in everything they do, they epitomize success.


As I’ve worked with winners in the military and in business, I’ve noted an important similarity. Whether the winners realize it or not, their success comes from their innate ability to work it now. That is how winners define win. They approach every challenge with a resolute commitment to excellence and recognize that it takes work to win.

The foundation of a winner’s state of mind is the realization that nothing in life worth fighting for comes easy. Sacrifice, effort, and sweat are synonymous with success. Take a look around your organization, see what the winners are doing and observe how easy they make it seem. It only appears easy because of all the time and energy they took developing their skills.

Winners are the ones who consistently:

  • Arrive early and stay late until the job gets done.

  • Volunteer for the tough projects when no one else will.

  • Take pride in their work and enjoy the daily journey towards success.

  • Take advantage of training seminars, ask questions, and read books to expand their knowledge base and expertise.

    The same holds true for the top salespersons who practice their presentations, the best professional golfers who perfect their swing, and the experienced HVAC professionals who are up-to-date and trained on the latest equipment, procedures, and regulations.


    Winners not only work hard in their personal development, but they also work hard at developing trusting and productive relationships with their co-workers, friends, and families. They appreciate that to truly be successful, assistance from trusted and reliable partners is often needed to accomplish each objective. Fighter pilots call these trusted and reliable partners wingmen. Wingmen fly in formation, on each other’s wing. They back each other up, monitor safety, and successfully accomplish dangerous and complicated missions.

    The wingmen mentality of mutual support also applies to business and life. We all need each other to help us overcome our daily challenges. While winners may not necessarily possess the inherent ability to do it all, their success often stems from the fact that they know who to go to for help in getting the job done. Moreover, they are easy to get along with and have an innate ability to connect with people. They possess what Daniel Goleman coined in the early ‘90s - emotional intelligence.

    As a former Air Force fighter pilot, my fellow wingmen and I lived by the credo, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” In order to defeat the enemy and stay ahead of the threat, we spent countless hours studying tactics, technologies, and war fighting doctrines. We trained together relentlessly in various environments in order to maximize our ability to survive in hazardous and volatile conditions. There was no room for error. If we failed, our lives and the lives of our wingmen were at stake. Finally, we planned, briefed, and debriefed our missions as a unified, cohesive team, understanding that we could never fly a successful mission solo. We always had to fly with wingmen to achieve our objective and essentially win.


    In addition to a work mindset, winners operate on a now timeline. They never put off until tomorrow what should be done today. There is no room for procrastination in a winner’s daily regimen. Furthermore, they don’t make excuses. In the stress and challenges of everyday life, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the countless responsibilities we face. Quite often, we become strangled by these pressures and challenges. Rather than take the necessary action to face them head on, we may find ourselves immobilized and fearful. How easy it is to give in to the pressure and wait until tomorrow to face today’s challenges. Unfortunately, many tomorrows pass us by and the issues never get resolved. We remain uninspired, stagnant, and fail to grow in our personal and professional lives.

    Winners, on the other hand, take action now. They possess a make it happen approach to life preferring to sweat now rather than bleed later. They tackle the toughest challenges first, and while their sacrifice may at times be burdensome, their ultimate reward is personal growth and the inherent satisfaction of a job well done.

    The path to victory doesn’t come easy. It is often strewn with defeat and frustration. However, winning is a byproduct of relentless self-discipline, consistent training, passionate leadership, and a positive attitude. This takes time, patience, and perseverance to develop. In life, you often have to stumble or take a step back in order to make a great leap forward. Hidden in every failure is a victory waiting to emerge.

    Never give up in your quest to be the best. Work it now and win.

    Publication date:03/05/2007