The Winner’s Mind: A Competitor’s Guide to Sports and Business Success
By Allen Fox, Ph.D.
Introduction to Part One
This book is about competition and its first cousin, achievement. It will explain what drives us to compete and achieve, what the difficulties are, and how anyone can become more successful at it.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN PART ONE?
The first five chapters comprise Part One and are intended to give the reader a deeper understanding of why we are driven to compete and achieve. They explore what we are really up to when we try to win athletic contests, live in nicer houses, wear Rolex watches, write books, give our words extra weight in social situations, do scientific research, and the myriad of other occupations and pastimes that make up the complex game of life. Of course, desiring success in these areas is only part of the equation. Everyone wants to be successful. Only a few are consistently successful. So these chapters also lay bare the emotional roadblocks that hinder so many people in their quest for success and help us to correct our own counterproductive behaviors that lead to failure.
THE PURPOSE OF USING EXAMPLES FROM SPORTS
Why, when I am really interested in generalized competition, do I use so many examples from sports? Because the elements that lead to success or failure in sport are the same as those that lead to success or failure in any other area of endeavor. In sports these elements are easy to see and understand because they take place in a short time and in a confined area. Business is different. The same mechanisms operate, but their results may not surface for years and their outcomes are not so clear. In sports, you simply, in a matter of minutes, or at most a few hours, win or lose. There is nowhere to hide, and responsibility for success or failure is clear.
WHY ARE EXAMPLES FROM TENNIS PARTICULARLY USEFUL?
I tend to use examples from tennis more often than examples from other sports, and I do so for a number of reasons. First, tennis is an individual sport, so there is no shared responsibility. Winning or losing rests primarily with the players themselves, and a look into their minds will tell us very simply what helps or hurts performance. Second, the players are on the court all by themselves and for a relatively long time. This allows us to watch the competitive process evolve and the stresses build as the players struggle with a myriad of physical, mental, and emotional obstacles. The players’ responses and actions are more clearly on display here than in the melee of a football or basketball game. Third, the personality characteristics necessary to become a successful tennis player are the same as those leading to success in any area.
Tennis is the sport I know the most about. I played tournaments my whole young life, and, with mediocre physical talent but exceptional competitive skills, I ultimately became one of the best players in the world, reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and playing Davis Cup for the United States.
WHERE DID I LEARN ABOUT SUCCESS STRATEGIES?
I earned my Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA while playing tournament tennis at a world-class level. When my tennis career was over, I went into the investment business, ultimately running my own investment company. This and the several successful small businesses that I owned and ran afterward gave me first-hand knowledge of the factors leading to success and failure in business. All this, including my years of experience as a college tennis coach, has given me a deep, gut-level understanding of the competitive process. I do not speak simply as a psychologist when I suggest solutions to particular competitive problems, but from personal knowledge as well. These ideas worked for me, and they can also work for you. Equally important, I know what approaches don’t work, having tried them myself and experienced, unfortunately, my share of losses.