Define Your Win



  1. to finish first in a race, contest, or the like: My story won in the short fiction category.
  2. to gain the victory; overcome an adversary: The home team won.
  3. to succeed by striving or effort: He applied for a scholarship and won.
  4. be successful or competent and be acknowledged for it: My sister wins at finding the best bargains

This post is just like everything you do in your apprenticeship, best begun by defining what it means to WIN. Ask yourself for just a moment, are you actually defining what your goals are? What you actually WANT? What does the definition of your success look like? What are it’s dimensions? And most importantly, what line has to be crossed for it to be considered a loss? What gets taken from the W that makes it an L?

What sets winners apart? Just listen to the way they talk. You’ll never hear “I did pretty good at a contest one time, then once I got into a school and finished it.” That’s how wanderers talk. That’s how people who “hope for the best” talk. They don’t strategize, they don’t define, and when they lose they don’t acknowledge the loss. Winners speak in specifics, “I applied for a scholarship, got it, and went on to achieve an 89th percentile in my graduating class. Then I set a recreational skiing goal for myself of 12 ski trips per season and wound up enjoying 15!” Notice the difference? Even if they aren’t setting monumental goals for themselves they know what success is defined by for their goal and they know what failure is defined by.

Most people don’t define their goals because it presents them with accountability. If they fail to reach their goal, it becomes visible, possibly painful, and no one is responsible for it but them. Maybe they haven’t flexed that muscle and don’t know how to deal with losses. Still, you and I both know that winners have to deal with losses, too. No one is perfect. You do not get better at handling loss by not playing. You must play the game voluntarily. That’s what an apprenticeship is all about. It puts you in situations, environments, and presents you with tasks that you stand a good chance at losing at. With practice, knowledge seeking, and help you can master all of those things. If you aren’t playing the game, there’s no way to win. Wayne Gretzky said it best, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Start small, and start from different angles in your life. Set a goal of 30 push-ups each day. That’s a small, repetitive W. Compliment 2 people per day, just for them. That’s an outward W. Plan a camping trip or a holiday for 3 months in advance. That’s a longer term W (once it’s planned and taken!). Ask a journeyman what their best practices are on a new tool each time you can. Pay attention and absorb their skills. That’s a W they’ll remember and trust you with in the future. Each of these come with potential hurdles, but that’s what you’re training to handle. Before long, your station in life will improve because of YOUR actions and you’ll be able to speak on what specific things got you there. All those things you’ve defined, and more, will be part of your winning streak. Your definitions. Your W’s.