How to Win a Fight
Life itself is a fight at virtually every turn. To win in sports, the athlete must fight against the limitations of the body and the efforts of the competition. To win the new job, the candidate must fight for the interview and for the offer. To win at home, the spouse or parent must fight against the natural human traits of selfishness and pride. Even to win at a simple game of chess or bridge or golf, the player must fight with tenacious concentration.
Everyday is a Fight on Some Level
Nothing worthwhile in life comes easily. Some days you will feel good, and some days you won’t. But regardless of feelings and circumstances, you must make up your mind to persevere. If you want to be victorious, you must decide in advance to fight to win. That’s what the senior leaders in the POW camps did. They went first, and they set the bar very high. The battles in your organization are probably less intense than those that took place in the POW camps, but they can be daunting nevertheless. If you’re a business leader, for example, you must constantly fight to increase revenues, develop new products, attract new employees, complete projects on time, promote teamwork, ensure quality, confront employees who are underperforming, and achieve a host of other important goals. In fact, you must in a very real sense fight for the survival of your organization every day. What’s more, you must continually fight to uphold your personal and professional commitments and values, in spite of fears, doubts, and temptations to compromise. That requires the same kind of tenacity POW leaders exhibited.
As a kid, we used to play pickup games of basketball and touch football. The two best players would take turns choosing the players they wanted on their team. The smart leaders didn’t always select the players with the most natural talent. They picked the ones who had the greatest desire to win, who had what we call “fire in their belly.” So it is with life. Talent, education, charisma, and good looks will only get you so far. To win in life, you must want to win and you must fight to win.
Find Your Drive for Success
In the business context, highly motivated people are said to have “drive,” or perhaps a “pioneering spirit.” They are willing and even eager to step out into uncharted territories, launch new initiatives, take on the most challenging tasks, and pursue lofty goals. Leaders with drive inspire, push, persuade, direct, and challenge others to take the actions that are required to attain the goals that are desired.
Leaders who are driven to win in every undertaking typically manifest the positive personality traits of assertiveness, initiative, desire for achievement, persistence, and ambition. These are good qualities.
Leaders with strong drive get things done. But as in other areas of life, too much of a good thing can be counterproductive. When all of these traits are in play without an awareness and concern for the capabilities and needs of others, watch out! A “driven” leader who is inordinately focused on results can push others into “burnout” rather quickly. That’s not healthy for the organization or for the individuals involved.