5 Things 'Losers' Never Do
By David Sturt and Todd Nordstorm, published on Forbes, 07/23/2014
No one goes into an endeavor planning to lose. No one wonders, “How can I be just marginal?” No one wants their work, their effort, or their ability to go un-noticed.
Dr. Jeff Spencer has traveled the world with winners. He’s been “on-the-road” nine times in fifteen years with the U.S. Cycling Team in the Tour De France. He’s travelled with the iconic rock band U2. He’s stood sideline with many of the world’s most winning athletes, executives, and teams to witness something he calls, “The Champions Blueprint.”
“Getting to the top is not the hardest part,” Dr. Spencer told us. “Staying at the top—of a sport, a career, or any endeavor—is what requires something special. To stay there you need to have a Champion mindset. And, the good news is, that mindset can be learned.”
Dr. Spencer, however, isn’t the only one analyzing the skills, attributes, and habits of those who win consistently. Numerous studies, articles, books, and training programs throughout the past few decades have focused on trying to unravel the secrets to mega-success. And, as intriguing as they all might sound, there’s one element that seems to get overlooked: the losers—what didn’t they do? What ‘d they miss? And, is it their fault?
Dr. Kevin Fleming, Founder and CEO of Grey Matters International, a company that provides coaching, development and behavior change consultations based on neuroscience, told us, “It’s not necessarily our fault when we lose. Our brains lead us to a feeling of being right. If that’s wrong, you could lose.”
After a long discussion about winners versus losers, the two of us were more curious than ever: if people don’t want to lose, what aren’t they doing when they approach a competition, a project, or life in general? What are losers missing?
“We thought we would discover personality types, or attributes, or experience levels that would separate winners from non-winners,” said Mark Cook, one of the analysts at the O.C. Tanner Institute who culled through 1.7 Million cases of award-winning work. “What we found was not what we expected.”
“Losers, aren’t necessarily losing,” added Cook. “They’re just not winning. And, it’s not because of who they are, how smart they are, or how much experience they have. They’re not winning because they don’t do certain things.”
The Great Work Study, a cooperative effort between the O.C. Tanner Institute, Forbes, Insights, and the Cicero Group studied nearly two million cases of award-winning work, surveyed 10,000 managers and employees, and conducted more than two hundred one on one interviews to find discover that winning awards (at least at work) boils down to 5 simple skills anyone can do, if they choose to do them..
What don’t losers do that could lead them to the winners circle?
1. They don’t pause. The researchers discovered that award-winning workers slow down to ensure they’re asking the right questions about the work they do. They’re curious about who their audience is, and who is the recipient of their work. In fact, according to the study, 88% of award-winning projects begin with a person pausing to ask the question, “What difference could I make that others would love?”
2. They don’t go to where their work is received. It’s easy to sit behind our computer screens and assume we’re giving the recipients of our work, great solutions. But, award-winning workers actually go watch their work being received. The research revealed that people who go see their work being received are 17 times more likely to become passionate about their work.
3. They don’t talk to strangers. According to the study, award-winners reach outside of their inner circle and ask for opinions and connections of others. They want to know the good, the bad, and the people who may help them move forward with their idea. 72% of award-winning projects involve people talking to their outer circle.
4. They don’t tweak stuff. There’s an old saying states that there’s nothing new under the sun. And, people who win awards at work seem to take that statement to heart. Instead of trying to invent something new, they add or subtract something from an existing product or process that the recipients of their work will love. The research showed that projects are 3 times more likely to be considered “important” when someone has added or removed an element or two.
5. They don’t stick with it. Approaching any endeavor with the intent to create a difference that someone loves, award-winning workers follow their projects until the recipients of their work love their work. In fact, 90% of award-winning work projects include people and teams who follow the work all the way through implementation and beyond.
The term ‘losers’ might be a bit harsh, referring to those who don’t win. Still, it can be brutally frustrating to watch others reap the accolades when your effort might be just as admirable.
“Winning is a mindset,” said Dr. Jeff Spencer. “It’s something practiced.”
We agree. According to the research, it’s a practice of five simple skills.