June 30, 2021

Learning How to Win

Defining a "win" and (only) aiming for that

I first started playing goalie in soccer because I was the chubby kid. I thought goalie meant less running. My kind of gig.

I quickly realized my mistake. Every time the opposing team would cross into my team’s half of the field, I’d start hyperventilating. My awkwardly big feet would try to shuffle back and forth, at which point I’d inevitably trip or fall too quickly, and the team would have an easy goal. It was a rough start.

Over time, I got better.
And as I got older, it was clear that the position was as much mental as it was physical. During my sophomore year of high school, our varsity goalie tore his ACL right before our district playoffs. We were a small school in southwest Missouri, so soccer wasn’t the main event. But this was big news. Our rivals, Ozark (yes, like the show), were the best in the district and we’d inevitably be matched with them.

Playing Varsity
As I started practicing with the varsity team, our coach would consistently remind me that these games would be no different than the others. Just do what we do in practice: cut the angles, catch the ball or clear it, and play big. In Coach’s mind, he was resolved that the score doesn’t determine how you play, how you play determines the score.

And it was true. A big, fast, or more seasoned goalie who was constantly concerned with the scoreboard might not be as good as a slower, smaller goalie who focused on positioning and played big despite what was happening on the scoreboard.

And for those few games, that’s how I played. That’s how our whole team played. Because of that, for the first time in our school’s history and after an epic final game with Ozark, we became district champs. To make things sweeter, I didn’t let a single goal in for that entire tournament. The seniors even dumped the ice on me (thanks Matt Brucks).

Scoreboard vs Fundamentals
As we get older, it’s easy to continue looking at the scoreboard far more often than examining our fundamentals. Maybe you look at your bank account more times than you tally what you save each week, or you look at yourself in the mirror more often than you go for a quick run, or you look at the size of your company more often than hosting coaching sessions with your key leaders.

Being great doesn’t mean being the biggest, fastest, or even the most “successful” — it’s defining what you need to do each day to be your best and then doing that again and again, no matter what’s happening on the scoreboard. This goes for investing, leading, managing, relationships, health & wellness, etc.

What are your fundamentals? Which moves or plays do you need to do each day/week/month to do your best work?

Start there. Then, and only then, will you have a chance to win.

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