What Does “Winning” Look Like?

Written by on 20 Oct 2015

It’s Week 3 in our series on the process you need to follow to accomplish anything you want in life.


If that sounds audacious, that’s because it is.


But I firmly believe that if you look hard enough, there is a method to the madness. Chasing our dreams might seem like madness, but this is our method.


In case you’re just now joining us on this journey, here’s the back story. My friend Will reached out to me a few weeks ago with an unsolicited, rant about how he believes you can achieve anything you want in life.


One day, I might actually post the audio so you can fully appreciate the word “rant” above. Until then, just trust me.


Thankfully, Will and I were able to boil that fire hydrant of his down to five specific steps. They include the following:


  1. Know the needle you want to move.
  2. Know why you intend to move that needle.
  3. Know where you want the needle to go.
  4. Know how to move that dang needle.


And most importantly…


  1. Do the things that move that dang needle!


Then, we took all the metaphors away, and came up with this final list to explain our process:


  1. Choose a goal.
  2. Define your “why”.
  3. Determine what “winning” looks like.
  4. Figure out what you need to do to move closer to that goal.


And of course, most importantly…




So far, we’ve covered Steps 1 and 2: choosing a goal and defining your “why.


Last week, we talked specifically about why the “why” question is so important and how to discover your unique answer to the question of “why.”


Yes, that might be a little confusing, but I know you’re smart. Roll with me.


Finding your “why” is equivalent to choosing the right fuel for your engine. Your “why” drives you. It engenders others to your cause. It stirs you to action. It carries you through the struggles.


Most importantly, your “why” can’t be wrong.


As long as it fuels your engine, it can’t be wrong.


So last week, I challenged you to answer some tough questions.


Actually, I challenged you to answer even just one of those tough questions that would help you get to the root. Get to the reason. Get to the “why.”


If you haven’t taken the time to ask yourself some of those questions (or even just ONE of those questions!), just hop on back to that post from last week. There are five questions at the end of the post that are meant to inspire you and lead you through the (sometimes difficult) process of self-reflection. Once you have your “why,” then you’ll be ready to join us here for Step 3.


Step 3 in this process of accomplishing anything you want is life is also very simple, but certainly not very easy or very small.


Step 3 is knowing where you want your needle to go.


Put even more simply, Step 3 is determining what winning looks like for you.


When I listened to Will’s message, a few of his words really stuck out to me. Namely, what he said after right after asking me about my goals and my intent. He said:


And then… how do we know that Tracy Timm has won?!


How do we know that when you’re moving that needle, that you won? What’s the goal? What’s the outcome?


How do we know that?!


Because if we know what winning looks like, and we’re very clear on that and it’s measurable, then we can manage it.


It’s a simple idea—deciding what winning looks like for yourself—but there’s a lot going on here that we might skip over or take for granted.


First of all, he asked, “how do we know Tracy Timm has won?”


He did not ask:


What does winning look like?

What does success look like?

How do we know that someone has won?


He asked about me.


He acknowledged the fact that winning or success or accomplishment or worthiness might not look the same for everyone. He recognized the notion that we might need to reevaluate the terms of success for ourselves and ourselves alone. He approved the idea that we didn’t have to do it anyone else’s way or measure ourselves against anyone else’s bar.


He made it ok to define winning on my terms.


Last year, I wrote a post on how I learned to redefine success.


I was taught this valuable lesson by a person who I consider incredibly “successful,” but not in the traditional sense. He defined his own personal brand of success, chased it, achieved it, then proceeded to set the bar higher and higher to create continued challenge and push his initiative forward.


My professor, George Kembel, taught me that my version of success was simply the continued effort toward what you deem to be successful. That process, in and of itself, was a success.


And honestly, at the time, I thought that was enough.


I thought it was enough to turn the notion of success being a product or an outcome on its head. I thought it was enough to honor the process by which we become successful as its own version of success. I thought it was enough to struggle, nurture, fail, and trust.


But you know what happened?



That’s right.



Nothing happened!


When I determined that my definition of a successful outcome was just the process of chasing success, I remained in the process of chasing success!


I never actually got anywhere.


I’m not knocking the idea of embracing the journey nor am I ignoring the fact that there really is no “there” that we need to get to.


But what I am saying is that unless you define the terms of success as a tangible outcome. A metric. A standard. A goal. A clear, measurable, manageable state…


You won’t ever get anywhere!


And it wasn’t until Will reminded me of that fact that everything started to sink in.


Sure, I was writing a blog, working on a podcast, planning a book, drafting a course…


But I hadn’t decided on my outcome! I hadn’t made the time to determine the goal that was validating the actions I was taking. I was doing a lot of stuff, but I might as well have been running around in a circle.


I had taken everything George wisely shared with me, but had completely forgotten to apply it to the real world. Yes, process might trump product, but that doesn’t mean you don’t ever want to get to an actual product! I just means that the “how” and the “why” matter more than the “what.”


It doesn’t mean that the “what” doesn’t matter at all!


So take a moment, and take Will’s words to heart with your own goal and your own “why.”


What does winning look like, for you?


Not for anyone else. For. You.


And make it clear!


Winning, for instance is not, “going back to school.”


Winning is “completing my MBA, in 3 years, from a Top 25 school, with honors.”


Winning is not “writing a book.”


Winning is “writing a 300 page novel, self-publishing within the next year, and selling at least 1,000 copies.”


Please understand—these are just examples.


Winning can be anything to you. It can be “big” or “small” in the eyes of your family. It can be “meaningful” or “trivial” in the eyes of your friends. It can be “successful” or “unsuccessful” in the eyes of society.


All that matters is that “winning” means “winning” to you.


No matter what winning looks like to you, make sure it’s authentic, clear, and measurable.


Because then we can move to the next step: managing it.


What does winning look like for you?

How might it be different from others?

Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

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