George Steinbrenner on Winning

George Steinbrenner

George Steinbrenner passed today. As a NY girl who grew up with a dad that lived and breathed baseball, and for Yankees fans the world over, it’s a sad day. And for the record, my dad is a diehard Mets fan, but that doesn’t make Steinbrenner any less of a force in my childhood.

Steinbrenner wasn’t always politically correct. Words like “harsh” and “divisive” were often used to describe him and his tactics – and they were spot on. He often wasn’t easy to be around. He didn’t mince words, he said what he thought and if it turned out to be wrong, he might later admit it. Or not. But the thing about George Steinbrenner that resonates with me is the way he felt about winning. Winning wasn’t an option – it was a given. He once said ”Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing.” ”Breathing first, winning next.”

And it wasn’t the ‘mow all the competition over and do dastardly deeds in the process’ kind of winning (mostly). It was the ‘I’m always going to try my damndest, and put all my resources and all my energy behind everything I do, because not winning is not an option’ kind of winning. Oh, and let’s not leave out the ‘and heaven help you if you get in my way’ part of that strategy.

That’s the thing that so many people forget – and it’s such a critical element of success. Having the passion to win. And being passionate enough about winning that they try. No matter what. And that no matter how hard it gets or how much it sucks or how much it costs, they stay the course. And that passion should extend to not only business practices and endeavors, but personal lives as well. Imagine how many businesses–and marriages–might survive if we all just dug in and tried a little harder.

I work with a wide variety of clients, some with beyond amazing ideas, products or services, but often they lack the passion to win. Oh sure, they are passionate about an idea, work to develop and create it, then forget that all that comes after the great idea. The hard work that is seemingly relentless. Day after day, in the trenches, pulling up your sleeves, sweating like a pig, refusing to ever give up, believing in yourself and doing everything it takes to win relentlessness. That means finding energy where there is none. Making sacrifices. Identifiying the resources you need. Finding more money when it’s all run out. Being smart enough to find—and hire–talented people to help you do the things you suck at. Realizing that just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. That you’ve got to have a plan. And a strategy to make them believe that they just can’t live without whatever it is you do or sell. Now that’s passion + a strategy which is a good formula when it comes to really and truly trying.

And when it all comes down to it, it’s the trying that matters. ”I haven’t always done a good job, and I haven’t always been successful,” Steinbrenner said in 2005. ”But I know that I have tried.” What about you? Are you trying hard enough? Or are you flirting with trying, because going all out requires too much of a commitment?

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Steinbrenner. You really were the Boss. Even the people you sparred with over the years will miss you. May you rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

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