Monday, October 4, 2010

Separating the Men From The Boys - The Psychology of Winners

My wife and I were talking about this over dinner this weekend. We both noticed that the world today seems to be filled with many people who are lacking the "winner gene." In other words, they seem to be missing that drive necessary to be amazing in the world. We felt that many seemed to be happy with mediocrity. Sure a lot of people talk that they want more, but when push comes to shove, seeing that played out never comes up.

For both of us, we participated in collegiate speech and debate. We knew what it was to be the best and the desire to strive for the best within us. We didn't just write a speech and just go out on weekends to say it to a group, we went out to win and there was nothing that was going to stand in our way to be the best. If we had a bad weekend, we now had a drive to fix those problems and the time before the next meet was spent working extra hard.

I was listening to a piece on NPR recently and they were talking about the professional baseball player Barry Bonds. What everyone who met him said was that Barry wanted to be the best. Being just a baseball player wasn't enough. He had that drive which motivated everything he did. Granted, some of that led to doing things that might not have been all that right, but the drive is what motivated him.

I bring this up because I honestly believe that many of the writers I come across say they want to be a fantastic writer, but in the end, they just don't have that drive to achieve it. Quitting is too easy. Finding an excuse for why their latest book wasn't good is also too easy. Instead of finding a way to fix the problem, they come up with an excuse.

When I hear the "winner-authors" they have a completely different tone. If they get a bad review from some critic out there, they don't say, "There is no way I will send my story back to that person again, they're just an idiot." They make a full attempt to make that person have to like their next book. These winners are not satisfied with a story that is simply OK, they push to make each book, and each character the best.

Which person are you? If you want to be successful at this business, you can't just be satisfied with average. You have to push for more.



  1. That was a very inspiring message to read as I set out to the library to write. Thank you for the Monday morning mojo!

  2. Aha! My only-child syndrome and competitive nature serves me well. LOL, I must now tell husband who thinks I can be "over-excitable." I prefer exuberant.

  3. I think the problem of making excuses comes from a lack of desire to learn. A "winner-author" loves to research, wants to learn the business, and continues to learn the craft.

    I spent most of Saturday with one of my crit groups. We're at several different levels of writing, but the one thing we have in common? We appreciate feedback so we can make our writing better. We always have room to improve. And we will if we WANT to.

  4. Scott, your blog just keeps getting better and better.

    Not only do you seem to have your finger on the publishing pulse but what you choose to share with us is spot-on and timely and so very helpful!

    Thank You!!

  5. A wonderful reminder for those days when I get never quit!

  6. I honestly don't think anyone is satisfied with mediocrity, most just don't know that they are. In fact, studies (I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago, which references a report on several called "Unskilled and Unaware") show that everyone thinks that their level of skill is above average but the vast majority are overestimating themselves and, whatismore, demonstrate an inability to improve their skills because, the theory goes, they cannot learn until they accept they have something to learn.
    Frankly, if one must attempt to judge skill by someone's 'attitude', then one must look for humility and quiet confidence, not that artificial "winner" confidence.
    I think the problem has been caused by an over-abundance of management book writers and 'coaches' pushing a "winning attitude" and using vague terms like "winner", and avoiding the word that is really important, but might lose them sales - WORK.
    You can't "fake it till you make it" Everyone who has "made it" WORKED till they made it and kept working.