The Three Ingredients of Winning

communication Apr 10, 2019
The Law of Victory

We all know them, the people who reach exceptional success in business, medicine, sports and the arts. It's tempting when we meet these people to believe they're more gifted than the rest of us. Not only does this line of thinking fail to give credit where credit is due, it holds all of us back.

When we attribute success to random fortune, we fail to see what winning looks like. It does not look like one clean score after another. As Michael Jordan said, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games; 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Winning looks like an ongoing struggle with bright moments of accomplishment and players who keep giving the game their best. John C. Maxwell calls this the Law of Victory. He says that leaders are people who refuse to give up. For them, defeat is not worth considering. If they experience a disappointment, they learn from it and move on to the next play. In difficult times and less stressful times alike, a great leader believes in winning.

First Light Technologies

A standout example of this principle is a company called First Light Technologies. From the start, they defined what winning meant to them. After years of repairing solar lights, Sean Bourquin, decided to build a product that required less fixing. He joined forces with Justin Taverna and together they pursued this singular focus.

 They started with marine navigation, and have since gone on to develop solar lighting for street, parking lot and pedestrian lighting. At every stage, their focus has been on building a product that requires less fixing. This has fuelled their growth. From 2011 to 2016, they increased their sales by 341%. Check out their website at to learn more.

This is just one example of a company with a clear vision and a strong focus that led to success.

The Three Ingredients

In "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership", John C. Maxwell gives us the recipe for winning. He says that winning consists of three ingredients:

  1. Unity of vision: In any sports game, the goal is fixed. We don't move the hoop during a basketball game. We don't shift the goal posts during soccer. As a leader, you can't help your organization win if the definition of what that means keeps changing. Define your vision, share your vision, and live your vision with the whole team. You should be able to approach any person within the organization on any day and ask them what winning means for the organization. No matter who you approach, you should get the same answer. As John C. Maxwell says, "A team doesn't win the championship if its players are working from different agendas."

  2. Diversity of skills: The vision may be singular, but the team is diverse. As a leader, one of your key roles is to bring together people with different skills and knowledge. It's natural for people to be drawn to others who share their characteristics. For a person in a leadership role, this is a tendency to avoid. Make sure that you look for people who are different from you. If you're a big picture thinker, get detail-oriented people on your team. If you're an extrovert, welcome those with a quieter approach.

  3. Raise the players on your team to their full potential: This is perhaps the most powerful ingredient of all. If you've ever played on a sports team with an inspiring coach, you know the impact a strong mentor can have. The same thing happens in not-for-profit and corporate environments. Part of your job as a leader is to encourage and coach. Winning is never something we do alone. Winning takes the whole team.

“Competing at the highest level is not about winning. It’s about preparation, courage, understanding and nurturing your people, and heart. Winning is the result.” – Joe Torre

Call to Action:

  1. This week ask a variety of people on your team to describe what winning would mean for the organization.
  2. At the next staff meeting, have a brief roundtable discussion about what winning means for your organization.


The best is yet to come. It starts with you.

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