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How to Win

The 14 Killer Words

It’s one thing to WANT to win.

It’s another thing to HAVE to win.

And the New York Yankees think they HAVE to win.

With spring training barely underway, team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner has already reminded the clubhouse about the goal. He took a swipe at shortstop Derek Jeter’s new mansion as a symbol of comfort, and he criticized last year’s finish, even though the Yankees made it to the league championship series.

“We almost got back to the World Series, but ‘almost,’ obviously, isn’t good enough in our market,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.

What must it be like to play when nothing but victory will do? That sounds like a lot of pressure. Too much pressure. And it’s certainly not a model that any other team should follow.

There are 14 killer words you should be careful about saying in a huddle, pre-game meeting, or anytime. They are:

Now or never.

Do or die.

There’s no tomorrow.

Backs are against the wall.

Those words all focus on the product (the final score) instead of the process (the actions that produce the final score). Focusing on the product brings stress. Focusing on the process brings fun.

But too many coaches are like Steinbrenner and the Yankees. They begin by feeling that anything less than victory is unacceptable. It’s not even March, and they are focusing on October. Henry David Thoreau, who never saw the Yankees play, would not approve.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment,” said the 19th century philosopher.

Pretty good advice for anyone. Maybe Steinbrenner HAS to read some Thoreau.

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Coach Tully speaks to sports, education and business groups. He also works one-on-one with student-athletes. For more information, call (973) 800-5836.

LinkedIn address: http://www.linkedin.com/in/coachtully

Book: http://www.tenthingsgreatcoachesknow.com


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