I am a runner…well, sort of. I do belong to a couple of running clubs; one meets on Saturday morning and the other on Thursday nights. On Saturday mornings we run races and eat big breakfasts with lots of coffee. On Thursday nights we run, eat big dinners and sample lots of beer.
It was at one of those Thursday night gatherings back in April of 2008, that I informed the group that I had signed up to run my first marathon: The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., that would take place in October of that year.
Someone joked, “You can probably win!”
Well, she was right. I could win if I first answered this important question, “How would I defining winning for me?” So, considering my age, ability, and time available to train I set 3 goals for myself:
- Finish the race…all 26.2 miles
- Complete the race in around 4 ½ hours
- Have Fun
I knew it would not be easy. I had only just participated in and finished my first half-marathon a few weeks earlier. The thought of running twice as far was a little overwhelming, but I believed I could WIN.
With some help, I created a rigorous training schedule. By September, I felt it would go well, and as it turned out—I WON! I finished the marathon, my time was 4h 40min and (looking back now) it was fun.
The Big IDEA: You must define ‘winning’ in and on your own terms! In your life, both personal and professional, defining winning on your own terms is the key to success.
At one of my clients, a new VP of sales inherited an organization where they had missed an assigned quota 8 quarters in a row. The former GM had set and communicated unattainable goals by consistently promising to deliver on double-digit sales growth in a declining market. It required that the organization invest in areas that they could not win. The results dragged on the business, created bad decision making, and lowered morale. No wonder the business was failing.
This new VP was not yet confident in changing the goal—with the assumption being—everyone from the president on up had supported a double-digit increase. When the next quarter came up short, he knew they could not WIN by staying the course. After doing his homework—he recommend a different path—growing at 3% would be considered a win in this market. Once he presented it, he was pleasantly surprised that the senior leaders agreed with him; as he was able show a different path to growth.
He communicated the targets more realistically and redefined the expectations of a win. With better planning and focus on more realistic decisions, resources were reallocated to the right place, morale grew, and the business began to thrive.
Think about a major challenge you are facing, now or in the near future, personal or professional, and answer: How do I define winning?