“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

We all (or many of us did) heard these words when we were growing up: study hard, get good grades and you’ll get a good stable job and be set. Didn’t we hear that from parents, teachers, and others? So, many of us did just that. We followed the program. But the program we followed did not teach us much about real-life or how to actually thrive in real life. The program just taught us how to be good cogs in a well-oiled wheel. Most of us didn’t really learn the true characteristics of success in whatever we choose to do.

Our society has an unwritten classification system with essentially two categories of people: winners and losers. A winner (according to our society) is “loosely” perceived as someone who has “played and mastered” the game. He is someone who has jumped through or manipulated the hoops to his advantage and has come out on top. A loser is perceived again,” loosely”, as someone who has somehow fallen through the cracks of life. He is someone who may have gotten off to a bad start and stayed there or someone considered to “not be going anywhere”.

But that is society’s paradigm and society’s system. It is just a perception. I want to talk about how the concept of “winner” and “loser” has more to do with a mindset than what happened in our past, what our current abilities are or even what our current our situation is. So let’s give a new definition to the words winner and loser.  Please know that I am not (intending to) categorize anyone; I merely wish to describe a way of seeing things and provide a backdrop for creating positive change.

A Winner Mindset Vs.A Loser Mindset

What is “A “Winner” Mindset?

A winner, in this new paradigm, is not defined by or controlled by his past. Instead, he chooses to learn from past mistakes (his mistakes and the mistakes of others). He does not live in the past but prefers to fully live in the present (the moment). And he leads his life into the future (he has focus and vision). The winner is determined and persevered against obstacles. He also chooses to be a winner by adopting new attitudes, beliefs, and courses of action. This paradigm is a lifestyle, that is to say, the way a person decides to live life by being in control of his choices and attitudes and by not allowing these to control him.

What is A “Loser” Mindset?

A loser (mindset) lives in the past. That is, he replays the past over and over, like a movie, in his head and uses the past to justify the present. The past is his backdrop for rationalizing why he is where he is in life today. His approach to life is largely reactionary. He also rationalizes the future, using his past and present to decide how his future will be. He blames his “bad luck” on things outside himself.  This person is, unfortunately, caught in a belief system that holds him captive to his pas and to his environment. A person in this frame of mind is not stuck there; he or she can always, at any point choose to turn his life around.

Accept that Failure Is Normal

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas A. Edison

When confronted with obstacles and failures in our lives, our mindset is what really determines where we go from here. To the winner, a failure is merely an event, a necessary step in the process of success. It is a learning tool of what not to do and an opportunity to gain wisdom. To the loser, failure is seen as a personal blow. He or she looks at failure as an indication of a personal deficiency such as not being smart enough, fast enough, or competent enough. Because he takes it as a personal reflection, he can not learn from the failure.

In his book “The Magic Of Thinking Big“, author David J Schwartz sums up five ways to turn defeat into victory (pp. 250-251):

  1. Study setbacks to pave your way to success. When you lose, learn and then go on to win next time.
  2. Have the courage to be your own constructive critic. Seek out your faults and weaknesses and then correct them. This makes you a professional.
  3. Stop blaming luck. Research each setback. Find out what went wrong.
  4. Blend persistence with experimentation. Stay with your goal, but don’t beat your head against a stone wall.
  5. Remember, there is a good side to every situation. See the good side and whip discouragement.

Make Peace with the Past

The obvious fact is: that history cannot be changed. No matter how much we wish it could, or how we wish we could undo some things in our past, it simply cannot be changed. So we can choose to live there in wishful and self-pitying misery or we can stand back and see what learning nuggets we can use to apply to the present. Obviously, if we regret some of our choices, we do not want to repeat them. so why not start there? Why not decide not to repeat the same mistakes?

Doing the same thing, again and again, will not give us different (and better) results, but using the experience from the past (our experience and the experience of others) as a teaching tool on what not to do is powerful in bringing about the change we want to see. Nothing changes without first having the realization that something has to change. The catalyst for change can be the mistakes of the past. The winner makes a choice to learn from the past to define his future. The past is a teacher, not a millstone.

Rethink How You Spend Time

If you think about it, we do spend a whole chunk of our time doing repeats of what we have already done. We have routines, habits, schedules, and traditions – all designed to repeat the past in the present. We actually don’t use much of our time to do new things. And a lot of our time is being filled by something urgent (we think). We fill our time with busyness (appointments, traffic jams, worrying, conflict-all kinds of things) and the time jar gets filled up pretty fast.

We can fill our jar of time to overflowing without ever doing something significant or life-changing. One emergency follows another and soon we have no idea where the day or the week went. It reminds me of an image I read about concerning rocks, sand, and water.  When we fill up our jar with sand and small rocks (representing unimportant things) and then try to put the big rocks (important things) in after, we have difficulty because space is already taken up by the small rocks and sand.

Why not start with the big rocks first? A winner thinks long term and makes choices to help him get where he wants to go. A winner puts in the big rocks first and then fits the smaller and less important things (pebbles and sand) around the big rocks. In this way, the unimportant emergencies do not usurp the high priorities of his life.

Steer Your “Kayak” Properly

“The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move. Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.” – Ralph Marston

We do this “busyness” because we get caught up in immediate emergencies and lose our direction concerning where we are going and why. It is a bit like being in a kayak in whitewater without a paddle. Without the paddle to help navigate through the rapids we will smash up against rocks and maybe get caught in the twisting rapids. With a paddle, we can direct the kayak and navigate the emergencies to get to where we want to go and we don’t have constantly be on the defensive and react to what happens. We can choose where to go.

And while we are on the subject of kayaking, here are a few things to think about. We are in charge of the kayak and the paddle, not the river. We should know where we are taking the kayak. There are rocks and currents along the way, but when we have a goal and determination, we can dominate the problems. Also, while we are kayaking, we are honing our skills of meeting real challenges head-on and dealing with them. There is no room for worrying, arguing, or wasting time at all. We deal with the important issues straight up: staying alive and getting to the destination.

If You Are Not Where You Want to Be, it’s Time to Do Something About It

When is the Best time to plant a tree? Ten years ago! When is the next best time to plant a tree? Now!

Now will not be now for very long. Tomorrow, it will be yesterday. So what do you want to do with now? There no better time than the present to make the changes in order to have the changes you want to see. And, the things is, no one is going to decide for you; no one will be living your life for you.

We can either fill time or invest time. Either way, time will pass into the past. And what do you want the future to look like for you? Do you want a repeat of the past with a few variations or do you want to do something new, something challenging, something that will make a difference? Do you want changes in your relationships or in your professional life? Anything is possible with a winner mindset.  Remember, the winner is inside of you; it is your potential.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca