What if Winning Isn’t Enough?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On September 30, 2013

If you’ve read previous posts from me, you know that I talk a lot about success. I write about great companies and great leaders. I write and talk about being great, staying great, and living great.

We’re infatuated with success. We’re intoxicated by winning. And often we’re willing to do “whatever it takes” to achieve success. Frequently we equate success—winning—with greatness. But what if winning isn’t enough?

Dr. Jim Loehr, Co-Founder of the Human Performance Institute, Division of Wellness & Prevention, Inc., knows a thing or two about winning. He has spent his career working with high achievers that include CEOs, hostage rescue teams, military special forces, 16 world number one ranked athletes, Olympic gold medalists, NFL Pro Bowlers, and many others. He knows winners. And the conclusion he’s come to is that often, winning changes nothing.

Loehr claims that’s because we often buy into the erroneous assumption that, “Great achievements will bring lasting happiness and fulfillment.” Loehr finds that the blind pursuit of external achievement often results in emptiness, addiction, and—ironically—poor performance. It’s not really about what you achieve, he argues, it’s about who you become as a consequence of the chase.

A while back I shared some thoughts about The Power of Having a Life Purpose AND a Business Purpose. It’s worth revisiting that topic because winning at business simply isn’t enough. Real success isn’t just about winning business battles. It’s about succeeding at life. And that’s measured not just in things like sales, market share, and profitability (as important as those things are). It’s also measured in things such as integrity, honesty, gratefulness, humility, optimism, and compassion.

Those are some of the things that Loehr stresses in his new book, The Only Way to Win. And in this book, he provides plenty of examples of how that’s done—along with the tools and planning that are necessary to develop these character traits.

What I find interesting about Loehr’s approach is that all of this emphasis on character doesn’t detract from a leader’s ability to succeed in business. On the contrary, it actually enhances his or her potential for success (which is probably why the book is subtitled: How Building Character Drives Higher Achievement and Greater Fulfillment in Business and Life).

After all, what good is business success if it doesn’t make your life—and the lives of those around you better?

Is winning important? Sure! Just make sure you’re winning in the areas that truly matter!