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Why do some people seem to win all the time?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013 | By Greg Ferrett

I have spent my life looking for that ‘big break’ or some get-rich-quick scheme.


I started my journey in high school when I purchased my first book on how to make my fortune in mail order. When I received the book I was slightly disappointed. The core message was 'write a book just like this and sell it to other suckers'.


I doubt I will ever stop looking; however, unlike the millions of others still thinking there is a 'secret' you can buy for just a few dollars, I have come to understand there are no quick fixes in life.


Yes, if you work hard you sometimes do get some lucky breaks. This is not just in business or sales but in every area of life including health and relationships.


Sales and fitness


I was inspired by my super fit 20-something nephews to get off the couch and made a commitment in January to complete the ‘couch to 5K’ running program. Being on the wrong side of 50 I had a lot of sceptical people around me, especially since I was seriously overweight and could only run a few steps before being puffed out.


As I run and my body gets close to its physical limit I get tempted to stop and give up. When this happens I remind myself of today’s goal and how far I have come and I manage to stay the course.


The key, of course, is a carefully planned program with achievable goals. If I set my goals too high and miss one or more of my goals, my motivation plummets.


Here I am in week six of a nine-week program. Yesterday I managed to complete my first non-stop 3km run. I can feel the difference in my health, my mental ability and stamina in general and look forward to achieving the planned result.


Rome lost every battle but won the war


I have always been intrigued by the long running Punic wars between Rome and Carthage.


Hannibal decided to end the war with one big and decisive battle. He took his armies and 30 or so elephants the long way around to Italy planning to conquer the Roman capital. The Roman strategy was to engage Hannibal in many smaller battles on the way.


While the Roman's lost every one of these smaller battles, Hannibal was so weakened he did not have the strength to conquer the capital and, despite winning every battle, lost the war.


Sale won through fitness


We were approaching the end of a sales campaign for a major implementation of the PeopleSoft financials and Maximo plant maintenance application. Our key competitor, SAP, realised they were unlikely to win and decided to bring in one of their best closers on the deal.


Being alerted to the change in tactics by an insider I met with the partner of PwC I reported to and said, "Wayne, we are going to go on one of the most expensive sales calls ever. We will be travelling to Auckland, meeting with the CEO for 30 minutes and coming home."


I re-examined every aspect of the sale and concluded everything had been done right. We were just being challenged by a big player wanting to win without doing the right preparation.


As we went into the meeting I reminded Wayne, "You are not to talk about technology or price, only about the business and the results he will get following our plan."


We were given 90 minutes, 60 minutes more than we were allocated, and by the time we arrived back in Australia the chief executive had already called Wayne to talk about another potential project.


This was a 'big break' for me. The big break was a result of doing what I do in my running program: focusing on doing the right thing every day.


By taking the time to develop the right muscles, the right experience, the right knowledge, the right relationships and the right character you may not win every battle; however, you can achieve remarkable things. If you are always looking for the easy way, the big break or get-rich-quick outcome, life and success can easily pass you by.


Today’s question and actions


What are you doing every day to develop your muscles, your character, your relationships? Here are a couple of things you can do;

  • Read, or listen to the audio, of at least one chapter of a business or sales book every weekday. By doing this you will develop the habit of being a lifelong learner and within three years you will have the equivalent of a sales or business degree.
  • Set yourself daily, weekly and monthly goals and celebrate every win. Share the wins with your colleagues and business people around you generating an enthusiastic team.

In his book The Art of War, Sun Tzu says, "Excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting".


Take the time to develop your skills and do the right things in life. The effort is well worth it because it will yield to you the ability to surmount any obstacle that comes your way. In the end, others will point to you and say, "Look at her, she made her fortune overnight" and you will smile knowing the effort it really takes.


Have a great week!