Are You A Warrior Or A Winner?

Are you process or outcome driven? A warrior or a winner?

Learning and improving can be a seriously frustrating journey or it can be a journey filled with discovery, excitement, hidden treasures and loads of fun.

For many people the ultimate goal is to improve BUT and it’s a huge but, can the goal of wanting to improve actually be hindering your ability to improve?

Coach Reed Maltbie sums up being process driven rather than outcome driven quite nicely using the model developing warriors not winners. He talks about being process driven rather than outcome driven in sport where:

Winning is not the ultimate goal, but a simple step along the path in the ever-ascending journey to excellence

From a skiers point of view (who may or may not be involved in competition) ‘wanting to improve’ can be seen as ‘wanting to win’. Improving and winning are the end result. The process is different.

The other day I watched our son playing tennis. The training session finished with the customary match. Our son had being playing superb tennis the whole training session but as soon as the match started I watched his performance deteriorate. He became obsessed with winning rather than playing. The desire to win had destroyed his actual ability to play well. It was a match to 5 points and in no time at all he was 4-0 down in a game he may have be winning or at least equal if he was playing as he could play. I was in ear shot so shouted over to him play, don’t try to win, play as if there is no result, play as if you are enjoying every shot, play as if there is nobody to beat, enjoy your tennis and enjoy taking your shots. He put his head down, thought for a moment and unleashed the next serve. he won 5-4. Winning is just something that may or may not happen when you focus on the process. Enjoy the process and let the result take care of itself.

The process is where the enjoyment is and where the real learning and development takes place. By taking a process driven journey you learn to experiment, you learn to push back the barriers, you learn to fail, you learn to recover, you learn to try new things and above all you learn what learning is all about and you learn to enjoy the journey.

Warriors are process driven. Winners on the other hand are always focussing on the outcome, the end game. This in itself leads to stagnation, the inability to try, to experiment, to push back the boundaries for fear of making a mistake and possibly loosing.

Warriors are not focussed on the end result. Of course it can be great to win or for the purpose of this article it’s great to improve. But these are the byproducts of being immersed in the process of learning.

Developing a warrior culture in your learning is about getting stuck in to the process.
Warriors are not worried about what they look like.
Warriors are not worried about what people think about them.
Warriors are not worried about failing.
Warriors are always prepared to try something different.
Warriors always get back up and keep on going after a knock down.
Warriors will retreat in order to advance.
Warriors don’t mind getting dirty.
Warriors enjoy the battle, win or lose.

I remember another one of our lads in a huge competition in Italy a number of years ago. The favourite skied down in a blistering time and everyone expected him to win. Our lad then came down. An outsider whom no-one had heard of. He clocked the fastest time. The Italian lad looked at the clock having been beaten by an unknown, a complete outsider. There was a smile on his face and this 10 year old walked across to our lad and congratulated him. He looked pleased to have been beaten. This was a true warrior in the making. He recognised an opportunity to improve, to develop, to get better and getting beaten was an opportunity. Watching this 10 year old Italian lad take defeat as an opportunity to improve was a real moment in sport for me and will be etched in my memory for a long time.

I often see many recreational sports people become frustrated with learning. This is because like many elite athletes many recreational sports people have found themselves outcome driven rather than process driven. They are more concerned with improving, rather than the process of learning. Even the desire to improve is outcome focussed. The same as the desire to win. Improving and winning can be thought of as the same, its the outcome.

Don’t get the wrong end of the stick. Wanting to win is great, wanting to improve is great. But focusing on an outcome is very different to learning and the process of learning and that is what can hold people back. It’s the process that’s important not the result. It’s the journey rather than arriving at the end of the journey.

Being a warrior is a bit like following a path through the forest. The goal is at the end of the path but along the way there are many twists and turns, hurdles, obstacles, dead ends. You may even have to retrace your steps and find an alternative path. Following the path could vary in time, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, days, weeks, months, years depending on the obstacles and how you deal with them. Take your eye of the path to the final destination and you can no longer deal with the intricacies of following the path. A warrior will almost always arrive at the destination as it’s the journey they are enjoying no matter how long it takes. But if they do not make the destination it doesn’t matter as it’s the journey they’ve enjoyed, it’s the journey where they’ve benefitted, it’s the journey that has helped shape them for future journeys in life. For a winner it’s not the journey, it’s the arrival at the end of the journey they enjoy and thus sadly may never get there and may often end up disappointed.

Become a warrior not a winner.

Photo: Pete Illinsky, Our guide in Japan. A true warrior.

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