The Key to Winning

The Key to Winning by Denis Waitley
(excerpted from Becoming an Authentic MVP)

People often ask me, what is the most critical attribute of a winner in life? Without hesitation, I answer that believing you deserve to win is the key. If you believe in your dreams when they’re all you have to hang onto, you begin to try. If you feel you have potential or talent, you’ll invest in it. If you believe you’re worth the effort, you’ll put in the time and energy. If you think you can, you’ll learn how.

Healthy self-esteem is perhaps the most important and basic quality of a winning human being.  You want to be able to say: “I like myself. Given my parents and my background, I’m glad I’m me. I realize I may not be the best-looking in the group, but I always look and do my best in every group. I’d rather be me than anyone else in the world.” This is the self-talk of a winner. Winners have developed a strong sense of self-worth, regardless of their status. They weren’t necessarily born with these good feelings, but they’ve learned to like themselves through practice.

The most successful companies in the world know that valued employees are their most precious resource. Valuable employees pass their value on to customers. The result? Excellence and quality. They are the most powerful competitors in the world marketplace. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we should view ourselves in terms of our own abilities, interests and goals. We can begin by making a conscious effort to upgrade our lifestyle, education and personal development. You always project on the outside how you feel on the inside.

Core values radiate like rings, as when a pebble is thrown in a pond. The self-centered constantly seek approval from and power over others. They try to impress them with their worth rather than express concern for others’ well-being. And their outward appearances usually involve ways to hide their real thoughts and intentions.

The value-centered give of themselves freely and graciously, constantly seeking to empower others. Open and modest, they have no need for conceit, the opposite of core value. Feeling good about who they are, and not needing to talk about their victories or line their walls with celebrity photos, people with core values spend much of their time “paying value,” as I call it, to others. When praised, they share the spotlight. When they make mistakes, they view them as learning experiences and accept responsibility.

My friend Nathaniel Branden taught me—and countless others—that self-esteem can’t be bought, won in an arena, measured by a stock portfolio, or displayed in a fashion model’s figure or an entertainment star’s profile. Self-esteem is a profound belief that you deserve to be happy and successful, combined with a trust or confidence in an ability to manage life’s challenges. It is as necessary for human development as oxygen, as basic as the carbon from which diamonds are formed. I used to think that diamonds were so sought after because they glitter, but discovered that they ‘re actually so valuable because they’re almost impossible to destroy. Formed at the earth’s core and very rare, they hold their value indefinitely.

Perhaps you have already developed the wisdom to know that the diamonds you seek are waiting to be uncovered in your own backyard—the backyard of your mind—where your sense of values and your self-worth are embedded. The simple truth is that if we have no internalized feelings of value, we have nothing to share with others. We can need them, depend on them, look for security in them—but we can’t share or give an emotion to anyone unless we possess it. The diamond is inside us, waiting to be discovered, shaped, and polished. Self-acceptance, as we are right now, is the key to healthy self-esteem—seeing ourselves as worthwhile, changing, imperfect, growing individuals, and knowing that although we aren’t born with equal mental and physical uniforms, we are born with the equal right to feel deserving of excellence according to our own internal standards.

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