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Want to win? Stop Trying

Imagine you’ve entered a martial arts competition, and you have the same goal as everyone else: you want to win. You show up excited on competition day, check in, and mingle among the competitors. As everyone is warming up, a fellow competitor asks you, “How do you feel about your prospects?”

You respond enthusiastically, “Pretty good!”

“Wow! What kind of training have you been doing?”

“I haven’t been training exactly. I’m going to give it my all and try my hardest.”

“Good luck…,” he answers dutifully.

What do you think your odds really are of winning and achieving your goal by trying hard at the critical moment?

The key to winning in moments that matter isn’t trying; it’s training. As Craig Groeschel highlights in The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most, setting a goal and trying hard when the key moment arrives probably won’t be enough to achieve your goal. Setting the goal is how you begin, and training will help you achieve the win. Current training will give you capacity in the future to do what you cannot do right now in the moments that count, like winning a martial arts competition, landing a higher-paying job, creating win-wins in tense conversations, keeping boundaries, or sustaining a relationship through hardships.

Groeschel highlights a few ways that training is superior to trying. Training reinforces a choice to be a winning person in your chosen arena, while trying is more focused on the specific outcome. Training lets you celebrate each day as a win on the journey to reaching your goal, while just trying for the goal leaves you feeling discouraged if you don’t reach it right away. Training acknowledges that you will eventually get the goal if you stay with it, while trying leaves failure as an option.

What goal are you after? What capacity do you need? What small training habit will start growing that capacity?

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