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The Difference Between Winners & Champions

The Difference Between Winners & Champions

I help leaders build championship teams…not winning teams…championship teams. By “championship teams,” I don’t necessarily mean teams that win championships. I had teams that won conference championships simply because we had an overwhelming talent advantage. Being a champion is about a mindset...not a result!

There is a huge difference between winners and champions. Everybody’s a winner in today’s world. It’s called personal branding. We are all caught up in the spin cycle. Winning teams are built from the outside-in. Winners are obsessed with results…whatever it takes to compare favorably. It doesn’t matter how low the bar is! On winning teams decisions are made after asking questions like: ”How will this make us look? How will this make us feel?” and most importantly: ”How will we compare with The Competition?"

Championship teams are built from the inside-out. Champions are driven by a purpose that transcends winning. They don’t have much time to talk about results. They are too immersed in the process of getting better! On championship teams decisions are made after asking the questions like: “Does this align with who we are?” and “Will this make us better?” Championship teams exude a spirit! When you’re around them there’s a sense that everyone’s excited about getting better every day…together!

Winners compare. Champions compete. I call them Strivers. How did I come up with that word? The modern definition of ‘compete’ is: “to outdo another for prize or supremacy.” But the origin of the word, from Latin in the 1600’s, is ‘to strive together.’ What does ‘strive together’ mean? Does it mean “Let’s hold hands, skip, and sing kumbaya?” No, when people compete there will be tension, but in the end, regardless of the outcome, competitors make each other better. Tension is required to strengthen a muscle…and it is also required to grow relationships!

Competition today is viewed as strictly zero-sum. Competing has become a dirty word. “Cutthroat” would be a better term. Although competing may get personal at times in essence it is not personal because true competitors compete to a standard.  Competing is a shared purpose. Competitors strive together!