How to Win Like a Professional

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar

One of my favorite Disney trilogies growing up was “The Mighty Ducks” (that has since changed as Disney now owns Star Wars). It probably had something to do with the fact that I’ve always lived in the south and ice hockey just wasn’t very popular (for obvious reasons). One scene I never understood at the time but have come to appreciate later in life happens in the final installment of the trilogy.

The ducks have been playing hockey together for several years and become the JV team for a prep school in the area. This comes with a new set of challenges and a new coach. In their first game, they score their first goal under their new banner and go nuts with celebration. The coach, a former NHL player, immediately says, “Hey, knock that off. Act like you’ve scored before.” Initially and for years after, this response seemed harsh to me. If you scored a goal, why wouldn’t you celebrate?

“Savoir Faire” is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “capacity for appropriate action; especially  :  a polished sureness in social behavior.” One of the things I’ve always admired about people who are considered professionals in their respective fields is that “polished sureness”. There is a brief moment of pride in accomplishment and then an almost refocusing effort to move to the next thing or task. Professionals need not to be distracted in the moment by the thrill of a job done well. For a real professional, the thrill is reserved for when the job is complete – not in a premature manner when there is still work to be done.

By that same token, the professional expects to win when that person has put the work in the preparation to do so. To act surprised or astonished when an accomplishment is bestowed on someone who has prepared to do just that is another version of humbly bragging. Don’t let the terminology fool you; it’s the same thing as a normal brag.

Conduct yourself in a manner that shows that you prepared to handle the success as well as you would handle the failure. Act like you’ve been there before. That mindset takes into consideration the respect that is due the accomplishment and the other competitors in the game. Have a little savoir faire and don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the prep, the expectation, and once the job is done.


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