The Nuance of Being a Winner

“Focus on Winning not on Winners” is a saying that has such a profound message about the attitude of winning. 

Why focus on winning and not winners? Is it true that we should not focus our sights on the winner? Are they not what we want to be therefore shouldn’t we focus on them? These are valid questions to ask about being a winner. Let us take a step back and examine what has been the norm and how what we have been exposed to as a culture of winning might have just taken a wrong turn despite the best of intentions.

Now, how many of you, like me, over the years have joined and been part of what is contextually a marketing network? It could be a product or service and I do include insurance and unit trust in this category.

My experience in this endeavour has been a positive one. In fact, in hindsight, I can trace back what I am doing right in terms of competency and maturity having its roots to the days I was involved in Amway. It was my training ground for better things. So this is not about dishing network marketing. I choose it as a prevailing example of good intent taking a wrong turn when it comes to nurturing a winning culture.

So, in network marketing, it is the norm that winners are highlighted and celebrated in a HUGE way. Don’t get me wrong, they should because of what they have achieved. Almost all leaders in this sort of endeavour use these winners as inspiration. Again nothing wrong with this. They should be an example and inspiration. Now, this is where the turn happens.

These winners, unknowing to them, are now not only used as inspiration but also as a benchmark of what is a winner! Therefore, the culture of winning is no longer about winning but is about beating a winner; focusing on the winner rather than the winning itself. Now, inadvertently, winning is about beating or bettering someone else. This nuance is dangerous and base on my experience is a slippery slope that many people do not survive (Notice the no of people dropping from the game).

So, why did this detour happen without leaders realizing it?

Let examine the context of winning. Inherent in the word winning itself, there is a contextual element that has lazily been implemented. The meaning of winning comes with it a connotation of a competition. If it is a competition, then there must be a contest that denotes there is an opponent. If there must be an opponent in a competition for winning to take place, therefore, a least another person must be present and what better way of motivating people to win or creating a winning culture than competing with another winner. Therefore, winning is now being used to mean beating someone else. This is the lazy way of instilling a winning culture and has produced an unhealthy concept of being a winner; in order for me to win, someone needs to be beaten; someone needs to lose.

The above scenario has made wining all about focusing on the winner. However, that is not what winning is all about. 

Yes, winning is about competition but not with someone else. If winning is about someone else, then it is very unhealthy. It is unhealthy because it becomes a destination to reach not a pursuit to undergo. In this winning culture, once you have beaten the other person, the winning stops. Very transactional, not transformational, not continuous.

Winning is about competition with oneself. If this is the context, the opponent is always you. Thus winning becomes a continuous pursuit; a culture. Winning is about setting personal benchmarks and constantly achieving them and repeating the process again. Have you ever wondered why athletes have personal bests? They are obsessed with bettering their personal best; thriving at overcoming self-limits to be a better and best version of themselves. That is what the culture of winning looks like at its best.

If this is the kind of winning culture we have, we are constantly in a mode of improvement for improvement sake. We self-plan, we self-motivate and we keep playing the game for a lifetime. We see it as a never-ending game. Fulfilment is in the pursuit and not achieving a particular destination which by the way is just a fleeting moment.

If we focus on winning, we plan to beat the game. We even go further and invent our own game. If winning is about beating someone, we are not playing our game; we will be playing the winner’s game. We will be to playing someone else’s game. Once we achieve that thing we call a win, everything stops because we have beaten the winner and there is no more game since we didn’t invent the game. The end. How is this empowering?

When winning is about focusing on other winners, people over time get demotivated and eventually drops out of the game. As for those that make it, we have also seen them dropping out once they have achieved a win because they didn’t invent the game that they won thus after winning, they don’t know what else is there. The game has stopped. I am sure leaders in network marketing see this too often. Of course, this is also true in any industry.

Maybe we should start celebrating winning; focus on winning instead of winners if we want to create a sustainable-empowering culture of winning that creates true winners.

Therefore, if you want to build a culture of winning and create perpetual winners, build a culture of focusing on winning not on other winners. Get inspired by other winners, for sure but focus on winning your game and not focusing on beating the winners.

Evolution of A Trainer

aka What does a trainer really need to do nowadays and in the future?

We hear about the buzz of Industry 4.0. Especially for trainers, the question that should accompany this buzz is what are we doing to respond (note the word respond rather than react) to this? We as trainers will also need to evolve because we might still be stuck in a time tunnel not able to grow to what is happening out there.

This was evident when I had a short conversation with someone that is relatively new in training. She actually revealed her lack of understanding of the current state of learning and development when she said learning design is a bonus as a trainer that is a subject matter expert (SME). This is rather sad because this is exactly the time tunnel I was talking about. I say nowadays it takes more than just being an SME to become a trainer; a credible trainer with learning impact that is.

Gone were the days just because you are an SME, therefore you can train. This archaic mindset makes people think training is easy. This mindset is damaging to learning and people development because it disregards the focus on learning and emphasis that learning is all about extracting information from an expert.

I do have compassion for her because she doesn’t know any better and not surrounded by people that know. She jumped into training thinking it is enough to do so just by being an SME. Unfortunately, it takes more than just being an SME to be a credible trainer who is creating a learning impact. At the same time, I am thankful to her because she is a demonstration of what is prevalent out there about what training is. This has inspired me to pen and share my thoughts on the Evolution of a Trainer.

This evolution also is parallel to the evolution of learning & development we are seeing in the workforce. Clients are calling for more innovation in learning to fit to the ever changing work environment such as new generations entering the workforce, decentralisation of the geographical location of work, the speed of business transactions, etc. All these work issues requires different concepts and approaches to learning such as Agile Learning Design, Facilitative Training, Hybrid Learning etc. All these requires learning design. How can we become effective trainers if we are unable to design learning to suit the needs of our audience? There is no separating ‘lagu and irama’. The same applies to training; no separating ‘learning and design’ unless you focus as a trainer is not on learning but on delivering information. If this is the case, there is no room for learning design in training.

Maybe in the future, the word trainer will disappear and what will replace it will be a more appropriate and meaningful term such as a Learning and Development specialist or an L&D Practitioner. This term will truly speaks of the focus of the work we do which is not just in providing learning but also in providing developmental solutions. One thing for sure, the role of a trainer as just a provider of knowledge or even worst the custodian on knowledge is longggggggg gone.