Why Are You Settling for Second Place?
Big wins should be celebrated, but you need the right mindset to turn them into continuous success.
It was real: Germany had just won the World Cup. Their game was quick, intelligent, and unpredictable. Their teamwork was simply perfect. Germany’s players had grown into a football team that was driven by passion for the game and an unbeatable hunger to win.
But in my experience, this exposes them to the dangers of defeat.
Why? There are two types of people: those who become stronger through victory and those who don’t. In sport, as well as in my career, I have suffered from the latter without even realizing what was going on.
Elevated by success, I was relying on old patterns to repeat great results. Trusting tried-and-true recipes, I focused on efficiency rather than reinventing my game.
Past successes kept me from being open to new ideas and I lost sight of other developments, such as the rise of my competitors. I became weak.
As I spoke to my mentor at work, who is a massive fan of the German national team, I thought about three ways to avoid falling victim to victory.
1. Past success doesn’t mean sh*t
If you waste time boasting about what you’ve achieved, you grow blind to the mistakes you’ve made along the way – you let go of the chance to learn from them.
Just like in football, you can allow yourself a day of celebration after you’ve won the title; however, the next day you should raise the bar and realize that the trophy you have won is a representation of your performance in the past, just as much as it is a mandate for your future.
2. Live every project like it’s your first and final
Every footballer remembers the first time they set foot on the pitch for a national game. They probably remember their heart beating faster than ever before, their focus set on one goal alone: to help the team perform at its best.
As I look back on my first project at work, I remember my excitement and desire to do something unprecedented that would really wow people. I was on a temporary contract and wanted my colleagues to be inspired through collaboration.
It could have been my last project and I wanted it to be the best it could possibly be. Realizing I had grown partially indifferent to my later projects, I swore to myself I would not let it happen again.
3. Stay hungry – break down to start up
“Let their passion be contagious, and approach your next project as if you were a new player coming into the starting line-up for the first time.”
The passion and surprise factor of being a dark horse in sports often stuns the bookmakers. Remember when Greece won the UEFA EURO 2004? They were young, passionate, and hungry for victory. They gave their all. Try to keep this sort of start-up mentality in your daily work.
Get together with your colleagues, be hungry and add fuel to the fire of your younger teammates. Let their passion be contagious, and approach your next project as if you were a new player coming into the starting line-up for the first time.
These thoughts have been a game changer for me. Today, my work is more exciting, pushing me to achieve way more than I thought I could.
The German national coach and his staff probably know these things and they don’t have to discover them by chance as I did. I’m excited to see their freshness and determination when they enter the stadia in France to show that winners can continue to be winners – with the right mindset.
thanks for your comment. I am currently thinking about a follow up on this topic and want to learn from the experience of others. Your opinion would be much appreciated:
What helps you realize that you're not hungry anymore?
What and who helps you to stir your hunger again?
How do you stay curious and keep a desire to 'create the new'?`
Any advice you can give?
What helps me realize that I’m not hungry anymore is when I get off of my routine. Being active in yoga or at the gym 4-5 times a week turns into 1-2 or abandoned completely. I will passively avoid speaking with the important people in my life, those who ask the tough questions that hold me accountable. I will keep myself ‘busy’ with tasks that I know subconsciously aren’t helping my cause or making me better. I realize that I’m not hungry anymore when I don’t have something that I passionately need to share with the world.
Stirring the Caldron:
What helps me stir my hunger is my desire to create something of value. I want to be a lightning rod of insight and information that inspires a community to innovate and uncover truth. The inspiration that I get from the opportunity to design the future is a catalyst to persevere through all of the wack sh**.
There are 2 types of people that help stir my hunger. The first are individuals like yourself who are actively engaged in creating a better world through collaboration. The alley ways of our creative existence become uncluttered when we see that someone else understands or shares the same vision. Surrounding yourself with as many of these people as possible is imperative in avoiding the pitfalls of complacency after past success. The only real variable in this space is accountability. That also means to never assume that everyone is on the same page. You’ve got to reel in the wandering toddler at the Championship parade. If you are that toddler, you’ve got to depend on your team to bring you back to the drawing board.
The second type of person that helps stir my hunger is quite the opposite. They are the people that I want to distance myself from completely. People with characteristics that fundamentally go against the life I’m trying to lead. They are people that take energy away from my purpose. Some of my best friends fall into this category, but I’ve identified their place in my life and our relationship works just fine (that's what golf is for). We get into trouble when we settle for situations that passively diminish the fire in our belly. Having the awareness to identify and customize the spaces we occupy can lead us to become more focused and attentive to details. I stay curious and burn with desire because I haven’t achieved my goal of having my work distributed and implemented on the largest scale possible.
your comments add to my initial post in a way that it even seems incomplete without your contribution. This is really getting deep and is great fruit for thought.
Quote of the day:
"I want to be a lightning rod of insight and information that inspires a community to innovate and uncover truth." ~ Aaron Robinson
You also said that you were not hungry anymore when you didn’t have something that you passionately needed to share with the world. I think that you have found the right platform to do so. Why don't you suggest a topic that you would share with everybody on GamePlan-A?
I've submitted my topic 'Holistication- Yoga for Athletes' a number of weeks ago. Nina has reached out to me and I've also sent you an email. I'd be happy to discuss the topic with you and prepare the article for publication on Gameplan A. I look forward to hearing from you.