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Sustaining the winning mind

By G. Balasubramanian

Shreyas was a popular cricketer. He always was the opening batsman for his team and had an excellent record. He was also known for his aggressive and stylish batting strategies. But he was sitting today in the pavilion in a melancholic mood. Consistently for the last three matches he got out without opening the score card. Everyone knowing him started wondering what went wrong with him.

Like Shreyas, there are many who suddenly fall flat from their winning trajectory and hence get into depression. Sometimes, a few find it difficult to recover with a sense of resilience. Though ‘once a winner, always a winner’ is not an acceptable proposition, it is hard to find reasons why winners with excellent talent and performance traits, fall in their scale suddenly for reasons unknown. Joan of Arc once said, “All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.” True to this statement, Shreyas had started losing his games even before he went in to bat. There could be several reasons that contributed to this mental state, but it robbed him of his success.

Vikram had just completed his third year in the Engineering college. He had all through the journey been a brilliant student. He never compromised on being in the top echelons of the college. The first two years of his college he had scored over seventy five percent in all the papers thus qualifying for ‘honours’ along with his normal degree. As ill luck would have it, he slightly underperformed in the third year for reasons beyond control, thus losing eligibility for honours. Depressed as he was, he consumed some poisonous pills and was found dead in the park opposite to his college. The unfortunate step he had taken due to his inability to negotiate with a slight fall became a story and a case study for others. Though Vikram did not compromise with his work and dedication, his interpretation of success was with reference to some mythical yardstick. Vince Lombardi had stated “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Sometimes winners think that they have the ownership of success and hence when the ownership is lost, they feel that the entire objective of their life is lost.

Defining a winning mentality, it is said “A winning mentality will choose to avoid pointing the finger of blame at others and, by accepting responsibility, take control of what went wrong in order to be able to do it better next time.” Winners essentially need an optimistic mind. It is the optimism that drives their energy levels. The optimistic mind of the winners goes along with their “I can do it” mind set. This helps in bringing their self-confidence to the surface of their action points. Dennis Waitley observes “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.”

“I can never compromise with my winning” says someone. “I am always a winner and can’t let it go” says another. “Winning spirit is in my blood and nerves” says the third. Many of such people don’t understand that ‘winning’ is an event and ‘events’ don’t determine the course of our life, though they could make some imprints on the journey.

Analysing why some winners fall from their performance curves, psychologists list the following reasons.

1. Winners become overconfident.

2. Winners celebrate the win but learn no lessons from those experiences.

3. Winners focus on the goals but start compromising with their winning strategies.

4. Winners tend to compete with people, but not with their skills.

5. Winners lose on practices after their win.

6. Winners’ passion declines after their early wins.

In several cases, the energy levels of the winners slow down with their earlier wins as they tend to reach some fulfilment of their gratification for such needs and gain satisfaction levels.

Smriti was a great singer and as a young artist, she became a celebrity. She was indeed thrilled and excited with her crowd pulling talents. But over a period of two years, she lost the ground and there was a steep decline in her TRP. “Well, how many times would we hear the same songs, though she sings them extraordinary?” was one comment. Said another “She lacks variety.” The third said “there is an element of monotony in her delivery”. She probably was encashing on her earlier success, but failed to update and re-engineer her approach to create a novelty which would gravitate or sustain the gravitation for her programs. Whether it is an individual or an institution, they need to understand the essence of the saying by Jon Madonna “Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.”

Winners continue to win not only when they are always prepared. They win only when they put a lot of practice in their task. Many students who appear for examinations are essentially brilliant, but their success is hampered by their belief that they know. With adequate knowledge levels, they fail to practice. And they struggle at the time of their examinations. Ashok lamented after the examination ‘the paper was quite easy. But I couldn’t finish due to lack of time.’ Indeed, others felt that the time was quite adequate. The problem with Ashok was he did not put his knowledge and skills to the test of time. “Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late,” said William Shakespeare. Any complaint that ‘there is no time’ quite often appears illogical, as time never controls us, but only we control the times. Says Franklin Field, “The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: ‘I did not have time.’

Winners have a tendency often to look at their competitors and learn lessons from them. Indeed, it is essential and a great input to design one’s own road for success. But one needs to understand that it is not the people, but their skills and strategies are important for learning. Any admiration for their brand, their charisma, their images and the like distorts the vision and directs the winners’ focus to non-preferred areas of learning. “Competition is not about tearing others down, but about building yourself up” said Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the novelist in her book “The Long Game “.

Winning is indeed a blessing. But sustaining the winning mind calls for effort, learning, commitment, focus and strategy. It is however interesting to take cognizance of what Martina Navratilova, the Wimbledon champion who sustained her titles for long said “Whoever said, 'It's not whether you win or lose that counts,' probably lost.”