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Last year, one of the most iconic and prolific tennis players in the world, Serena Williams, decided to step away and retire. She left behind a magnificent legacy as a 23-time grand slam champion at the age of 41. While there are many ways to describe her, from “trailblazer” to “perfectionist”, there is one word that encapsulates her entire being perfectly: “winner”.
A winner’s mindset is an attitude in life that focuses on growth and self-improvement. Learning how to develop a winner’s mindset means understanding yourself and building the mental, psychological, and motivational aspects of your life. Becoming a winner isn’t about being victorious every single time, though. In many cases, having the winner’s mindset forces you to encounter loss and difficulty. Sometimes, you might even feel like you’re at your lowest point. When that happens, it’s the winner’s mindset that lets you go beyond your limits.
So, what exactly does it mean to have a winner’s mindset? It’s about developing and honing the ability to stay resilient. Winners never give up, even when they’ve suffered their toughest losses. In sports, that means chasing after the top prize and giving 110% in all endeavors, whether it’s a competition or an exhibition. In life, especially for working adults, it means pushing yourself to do more and achieve greatness. Simply put, a winner’s mindset makes you want to become better every single day.
What makes the winner’s mindset so interesting is that it teaches you to handle problems with grace and face them with ferocity. You learn to take defeat with a smile, but you never let it be the end. A winner’s mindset is about moving forward. You never settle, even when things go as perfectly as possible. It’s always about the next step.
Now that you understand what a winner’s mindset is, it’s time to learn its defining characteristics. While there are many ways you can interpret this, there are three key signs of a winner’s mindset. By having these, you can approach any field or endeavor with more determination and focus than anyone else. Here are the three telling characteristics of a winner’s mindset and why they matter so much.
The first aspect of learning how to develop a winner’s mindset is risk-taking. Winners are people who want to try something, even if it’s tough. They have a never-say-die attitude to taking chances. For them, the odds are only guesses or ideas. The real mark of success isn’t if it’s 100% guaranteed, but if it’s possible.
That said, having a winner’s mindset isn’t the same as gambling against the odds. Even the most courageous people should know when to take a chance. Serena Williams kept fighting in her matches, even if she was down by five sets. She learned at an early age to play with all her heart, whether she was being cheered or heckled. However, she wasn’t being foolhardy. If she had to rehab an injury or focus on her well-being, she would do so.
So, if you want to know how to develop a winner’s mindset, start by taking more risks in your life. It’s not even about doing something insane, like jumping into a burning building. For instance, taking a new diet that can help you lose weight is a risk. It’s tough and demanding. It can be hard to follow through. This risk, however, can help your life for the better. It can teach you to stay disciplined and healthy. By taking this “risk”, you start to see how far you can go and what you need to improve on. Speaking of which…
Becoming a winner doesn’t mean that you have the entire game figured out. Serena Williams may have won over 70 titles in her whole career, but that didn’t mean she was content. She didn’t settle into a single answer or play style, especially as her opponents changed over the years. Through a winner’s mindset, Serena had to learn to adapt and improve.
Outside of sports, other winners and icons have embraced this attitude of continuous learning. Bill Gates famously goes to a cottage to study and read new things whenever he gets the chance. Warren Buffett takes time to learn and research the businesses he considers valuable. The reason why is simple: these people know that they need to know more. Having a winner’s mindset is about learning to understand and growing their perspective.
One thing you cannot deny about Serena Williams is that she is confident and self-aware. Even as she enjoys retirement, she plays tennis and knows that she could probably still be amongst the pros. While she chose to step away, she is still a confident person who knows how far she can go. That’s the winner’s mindset that made her one of the best tennis players and sports icons in the world.
To learn how to develop a winner’s mindset, you have to be confident in who you are. Knowing what you can do is the best form of leverage. At the end of the day, it’s about what you’re capable of and how far you’re willing to go. However, don’t mistake confidence for bravado. A winner may be confident, but they are also self-aware. They know that they have limits. Sometimes, knowing what you can’t do is the first step to success. So, if you want to know how to develop a winner’s mindset, know your worth and your limits.
By reflecting on the key signs of a winner, you can now start to learn how to develop a winner’s mindset. Each of these steps can be found in any winner’s life, especially that of Serena Williams. Here’s how you can become a winner in your life!
The first step to building a winner’s mindset is training. While many tennis players have learned the basics, the best have always been guided by a mentor. Unlike a regular coach or instructor, a mentor pushes their students to the limits and helps them develop the right mindset.
For Serena Williams, the mentor that shaped her entire life is her father, “King” Richard Williams. He was inspired to raise his daughters into tennis champions upon seeing Virginia Ruzici win the 1978 French Open, where she also got $20,000. Living in a small apartment in Compton, Richard wanted a better life for his little girls. Even though he had no formal training, he worked hard and dedicated his time to make sure Venus and Serena would have a winner’s mindset. With the sisters now sharing several championships and worldwide fame, it’s safe to say that he succeeded.
Like the Williams sisters, you need to consider who will mentor you in your life. Whether you’re looking for financial support or life skills, a good mentor should bring out the best in you. Don’t settle for one of your peers or an affordable guide. Consider someone that you look up to, a person who has achieved all that you want to gain. Their insight can help you hone a winner’s mindset.
Serena spent a lot of her time training with her sisters. Her determination to win was so strong that she would throw fits for not being able to succeed. Sometimes, her sisters even let her win just to calm her down. Even in retirement, Serena has chased multiple business opportunities and worked hard in all her endeavors. One could argue that this competitiveness built her winner’s mindset and made her the trailblazer she is today.
In that same manner, learning how to develop a winner’s mindset might mean taking inspiration from our own lives. You can look to the past to help motivate and shape your present. Look back to a situation where you needed help or where someone seemed to do the impossible. Whether it was your parents or your idols, there’s always a situation that can inspire you to push past your limits. Once you find it, hold on to that memory and use it to fuel your determination.
Many tennis players would dream of winning one grand slam championship. Whether it’s the US Open or the Wimbledon final, the idea of winning those events is on every player’s mind. So, when Serena Williams won each of the four renowned tournaments, you could imagine that she would be satisfied. However, as we all know, she did not settle for one victory. With her winner’s mindset, she pushed herself to win and excel, bringing her 23 championships in her exceptional career.
Like Serena, you should also learn to continue to chase the dream. To borrow a phrase from the late Steve Jobs, you should “stay hungry, stay foolish”. For Jobs and Williams, the idea of success wasn’t a one-stop journey. It was a consistent effort, one that had goals and plans that changed, adapted, and evolved. While we can all achieve something good once, why should we settle for less? By understanding how to develop a winner’s mindset, you learn that success is a lifestyle, not a moment.
Being the best is what Serena always wanted to be. However, that kind of ambition is pretty vague. Serena may have wanted to be the best in the game, but she would’ve never become successful if she didn’t know how to get there. Whether it was to become the World’s No. 1 tennis player or to win each of her tournaments, she always had a vision of what she wanted to become. In other words, she used her winner’s mindset to foresee her path.
If you want to build a winner’s mindset, you can’t be vague or simplistic in your goals. A true winner knows exactly what they want or at least what they plan to achieve. If you compare a winner’s plan to that of a New Year’s resolution list, you’ll see a big difference. People might say they want to lose weight or become rich, but that’s not particularly inspiring. Winners, on the other hand, would be precise about what they wanted. For example, their list might say they want to lose 20 pounds in a year or earn a million dollars.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, once stated that our lives are the sum of our habits. Studies from Duke University show that habits make up 40% of our behaviors each day. As you can imagine, Serena Williams took this to heart. Her winner’s mindset helped develop a rigorous schedule for tournament training. This included tennis practice from 9 AM to 1 PM; that’s four hours a day of nothing but tennis practice!
The key to becoming a winner is building the right habits through your daily routine. For example, studies show that daily meditation can reduce your anxiety levels by 60%. However, to make habits effective in your life, you have to consider the task and the frequency.
For instance, Clear said that if you want to jog daily, you should start picking up your running shoes every morning. Through these consistent actions, you can start to make jogging part of your schedule. Simply put, you can build a winner’s mindset through small, simple steps.
Serena Williams may not enjoy losing, but she always does expect the best from herself. She does her best to be accountable for many things, from winning tennis tournaments to running businesses under her name. No matter what Serena does, she always gives her best effort. Through this winner’s mindset, she knew where she succeeded and where she needed to improve.
Follow her example to develop a winner’s mindset. People often rely on excuses or circumstances to explain their shortcomings. The blame game can be easy, but it’s not worth playing. By holding yourself accountable for your actions, you start seeing your choices in a new light. If you stay calm and reflect, you might learn just how much control you have.
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