The Secret to Winning

The Secret to winning is that there is no secret. Just ask Jim McGuinness, the man with a plan, a plan that has turned the Donegal team into Ulster champions two years in a row and created the moment the county had waited on for twenty years—the moment when Donegal qualified for the 2012 All-Ireland final. Now we are waiting on another moment—the moment when Donegal bags Sam again!

Jim McGuinness, like all great leaders and coaches knows there is no secret to winning. They also so if you want to win, ironically, you don’t focus on winning. You focus on developing skills, on creating positive energy and a strong mental attitude of your people and team. Winning may be the ultimate focus but winning is a goal, not the focus. Winning is the by product of many challenges, an unfaltering belief, great effort, visionary leadership, motivational coaching and teamwork. Just as you can win in sports you can also win at work and life by knowing and living this ‘secret’.

McGuinness set about managing the Donegal side with a five year plan. He focused on developing his team. He focused on improving their fundamentals, skills, character and team work. He focused on his men instead of outcomes and as a result his positive thinking is winning….a lot.

The benefits of positive thinking are well documented. Check out any self-help book shelf in all good book stores—a ‘can-do’ attitude, a vision board and a copy of  The Secret are all you need to dream your way to success. I endorse positive thinking too but before you pin your hopes on a display board, you should know that several studies also reveal that overly optimistic thinking can actually impede your ability to achieve your goals. When you expect something to be easy, you get quickly discouraged when it’s not, and you’re more likely to quit. When you assume that success should come naturally, you’re more likely to blame any failure on lack of ability or lack of willpower. However, one of the secrets of achieving your goals is to recognize that it is going to be challenging. Acknowledging the difficulties you will probably face and keeping up your confidence by creating strategies to overcome them is a more realistic way of reaching your goal. The truth is that if you believe you can, you probably can—you just need a plan and be prepared for some hard work along the way.

McGuinness rules with an iron hand. He has managed to psychologically and technically whip into shape a group of skilled players making them one very committed, focused and hungry team with every player clearly adopting the McGuinness philosophy. Donegal’s progress is not merely the emergence of a good team – it is the belief and trust in their manager and the team’s ability to adhere to his plan irrespective of outcome.

Whether its football, relationships, work or life, winning doesn’t happen by focusing on the points on the scoreboard. It happens when we focus on the people, skills, positive energy and teamwork that generate the points. At this stage we cannot be sure of the result of Sunday’s game but we can be sure of one thing. The Donegal manager and his team are winners already. Winning is a work in progress—Jim McGuinness isn’t even halfway through his 5 year plan yet—the  writing is on the wall and a win is on the cards.  Good luck to Jim and his team on Sunday and may another magic moment be created—the moment when we know Sam will accompany the boys back to Donegal.

© Aileen McGee

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