Why is it so hard for many to realize that winners are usually the ones who work harder, work longer, and as a result, perform better?” ~ Coach John Wooden

Coach John WoodenI don’t follow basketball (I’m a prairie born Canadian – it’s all about hockey in my household!), but I am a fan of Coach Wooden.

Coach Wooden passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, but his legacy as one of the greatest coaches lives on. He was the head coach at UCLA and in 12 years he won 10 NCAA national championships. Of those, seven were in a row. This huge achievement was unprecedented. Not surprisingly, he was also named national coach of the year six times.

The interesting thing about him is that his focus was less on the winning and more on the preparation. In Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, he says that competitiveness needs to be focused exclusively on what you are doing (the preparation) versus the result.  It makes me think of how many people say “practice makes perfect”.

That’s not really true. Practice only makes perfect if you’re actually practicing it perfectly. I think that is why Coach Wooden’s focus on the work to prepare was so important. It was all about practicing perfectly versus winning. Winning came as a result of that, but winning or losing wasn’t the focus.

In the book Talent is Overrated, Geoffrey Colvin says that simply doing an activity for a long time is no guarantee you’ll do it well or even get better at it!

So what if you want to be able to run a marathon, speak Spanish or learn to negotiate great deals?

Running is something most of us know how to do. If you want to run a marathon you might not feel you need help at first. However, as you increase your distance you might find you’re starting to injure yourself, or you’re not getting any faster. At that point you’ll probably buy a book, join a running club or hire a coach.

You’re not going to just start trying to speak Spanish without any guidance, are you? At the very least, you’ll probably go online to find free training. More likely, you’ll buy a course or hire a tutor.

You may naturally be an effective negotiator, but most of us need to learn how to do it or we’ll be leaving money on the table and not creating ideal situations for ourselves.

Bottom line … Coach Wooden was right. It’s how you prepare that matters. Whatever your goal is, make sure you’re working hard and working on the right things.

You may have heard it said that there are no shortcuts in life. I disagree … getting help from an expert is a shortcut. The right guidance will help you practice perfectly so you get the results you want.

Today, I have something extra special for you…guidance to help you get more of what you want in conversations you’re having every day. Whether you’re going to ask for a raise, interview for a new job, hire a star team member, grow your business or just pitch an idea to your team … here’s how to have more impact and influence in your conversations.

Watch the Conversations that Sell: 5 Tips to Get More of What You Want Training Session:

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 Image Credit: © Wickedgood | Dreamstime.comCoach John Wooden Photo