Developing a Winning Success Style
Bill Cottringer

“When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.” ~ Paul Brown.

A person can generally be a winner with a big dream, solid game plan on translating the dream into reality, a good character with which to do that, a lot of hard work doing it, virtually unlimited perseverance during adversity, and a little luck. Of course most luck is when the efforts meet opportunity. To achieve success and a sustainable winning style, it takes even more. Fortunately, these seven things conveniently work together to create such a long-term, sustainable winning success style.

1. Listening.

Winners practice the carpenter’s rule of good communication—they talk once and listen twice. Those who develop a winning success style listen much more than they talk. That is because the more they listen, the more they learn—listening to clues in nature and listening to others’ perspectives about a situation or life in general. The more you listen, the more you learn; the more you talk the less you learn.

One interesting thing starts to happen, the more we get outside our own head and make the effort to get into another’s. We realize we may only have a limited 180-degree viewpoint in seeing half of what we need to be seeing, instead of a full 360-degree view of seeing everything. Maybe that is why we were born with two ears and only one mouth. Of course two-eared listening requires careful hearing of both what is said or not said, and what is said and how it is said.

2. Selflessness.

A winning success style requires a major shift in perspective, which is of from self to others. This may be our greatest challenge in developing a winning success style—to set aside our ego when it has gotten us to most of the way to where we want to be. And then we have to consider giving up all that we think you know, all on our own, to learn what is really true and more useful, from others. Being self-centered is only good to arouse our inner motivation and is too distracting and disruptive in our thinking and practicing these other behaviors.

The successful football coach, Lou Holtz, maintained that the best way to help ourselves win and be successful was to help others get what they want. To do this, we have to shift our focus from what we want, to others and learn what they want. Of course this takes more listening to others, to find this out, and less talking about our self and our selfish agenda, which just gets in our own way. Nothing much good happens when we are the person who needs to get out of our own way.

3. Intrinsic Motivation.

When we stop and contemplate the governing rules of life and laws of nature that seem to persist over the long haul, it appears that right behavior of participants usually gets rewarded and that wrong behavior gets everything else. But what we don’t see is what is going on inside the participant to be successful in winning. It is not getting an external reward that keeps us moving in the right direction, but the satisfaction of an invisible internal drive. This motivational secret was discovered quite some time ago, but oddly the idea still gets resistance.

In an early learning experiment with monkeys, Psychologist Harry Harlow discovered the natural superiority of internal motivation over external motivation. One group of the monkeys was given rewards for solving parts of a puzzle, whereas the other group was not given any such rewards. The second group fared much better in solving the whole puzzle, but for a newly discovered reason. These monkeys were successful in solving the puzzle because just doing this was an inherent reward of and all by itself. This was a major paradigm shift in understanding human motivation, making it stronger and longer-lasting.

4. Connection.

Most success comes about during interpersonal interactions with others, rather than working alone. The level of this success has to do with the strength of the personal connection we are making with other people. At work or sport, it is the connection with other team members, in a marriage with the partner and in writing or speaking with the reading or listening audience.

Communication is the main currency in interpersonal interactions and without a good connection, good communication doesn’t occur. And we now know, the best communication involves good listening. In fact, all these seven habits work together to reinforce each other. The drive to make connections comes from good listening, selflessness, intrinsic motivation and smart thinking; and in turn, these connections are facilitated by the following two “C’s.”

5. Two “C’s”

In shifting from the Manufacturing Age to the Age of Information, we have seen a major paradigm shift from a prevenient win-lose mentality to an openness of the possibility of win-win solutions. For this shift to take hold, the two “C’s” must become more fashionable within the other shift, from self to others. The two “C’s” are compromise and collaboration. Without them, we will continue having win-lose outcomes and a scarcity mentality, instead of the needed win-win outcomes and an abundance mentality.

Also, with the shift from the Manufacturing Age to the Information Age, came a shift from single leadership by fiat resulting in only a few making it to the finish line, to multiple team management, with compromises and collaboration to get everyone to the fish line together. A winning culture—whether it be at work, in an intimate family relationship or between friends—uses compromise and collaboration to get a variety of solutions where the team doesn’t sacrifice anything of too much importance and gains something of significance. This is always a win-win outcome for everyone.

6. Smart Thinking.

Smart thinking is more about using good sense, not common sense or genetic IQ. Smart thinking comes from these other new habits working together to purge your mind from useless common sense and downright nonsense, to more useful good sense. The good sense is seeing what it takes to sustain a winning success style—a winning success style of thinking. This type of smart thinking focusses of learning what you need to know to be successful.

A major inhibitor to smart thinking is the fear of failure. Michael Jordan, quite possibly the most successful basketball star ever in the NBA, attributed his success to what he learned from all his failures, like the game winning shots he missed. This helped free his coach-ability to learn how to be more successful from understanding about what he was doing wrong when he failed. The same is true for Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln.

7. Centeredness. Smart thinking takes you to the best viewpoint where you need to be to develop and maintain a winning success style. This is in the middle of two opposing half -truths so you can appreciate the full truth of something. Earlier Philosophers called this thinking place “the golden mean.” It is always the best viewpoint in time and place to see in all directions—forward and backwards, inside-out and up and down. That way you can’t miss the truth.

Now here is a strange but welcome twist on practicing all these other six habits in moderation. It is okay to have moments of all their opposites—being self-centered, talking too much, over-embracing a half-truth, using what appears to be common sense, being unconnected and alone, going for the gold or focusing on winning at the expense of someone else losing. Your intrinsic motivation will always bring back the good habits, sooner rather than later.

“You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going.” ~ Morgan Wootten.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearl’s of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale. (Covenant Books, Inc.) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or