Words win! If you work(ed) with me or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites, these two words aren’t far behind. Numerous people have asked what it means, and I’ve explained to them where it came from and its meaning. The more I use it, the more I realize there is a whole lot more going on with these two words than I ever imagined.

The word is win!
OK, so here it goes—the definition of “words win” and why I believe in it in many factions of my professional and personal life. First off, “wordswinis the phrase. The sentence it’s derived from is “The word is win.” This was our rally cry for one of the football teams I coached. Our head coach made it very simple for our players—the word is win—and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. So at the beginning and end of every game, practice, running session, or strength training session, the team broke it out on words win! And win we did, going 10-3 and winning a PAC 10 Championship (we shared it with USC, of course).

I loved it! It was simple and direct and to the point. So, as I’m inclined to do, I exploited the saying and it comes up in everything I do in my life. Am I perfect? No way, but I’m a winner in more ways than one. Also, I’ve looked at “words win” in several other scenarios and how to use it in all aspects of life, so bear with me here as I may go on some tangents. But in the end I believe you will get the picture.

Everyone wants to be associated with winning, regardless of who we are or what we do in life. In the end, we want to be a winner. In sports, it’s simple. At the end of the competition, the athlete or team with the highest score is declared the winner. In track events, the individual who crosses the line first is declared the winner. In bodybuilding, the person with the fewest points is declared the winner.

In business, you may be vying for a promotion and whoever brings in the largest account at the end of the month will be promoted. Promotion equals winner. You and your staff are working on a project that will land you the rights to build a chain of hotels in Las Vegas (my favorite city). If your plans are chosen, your company gets notoriety, you and your staff get bonuses, and you help thousands of people land numerous jobs at these hotels. Landing the contract equals winner.

Winning in life should include the following—having an engaging relationship with the love of your life, being a positive role model to your children and siblings, and being a positive influence in your community. All these and more make you a winner. Get the picture. No one wants to fail. We are all driven in some way to be the best we can be.

Sometimes you may not come in first, but you still may have succeeded previous expectations and goals. There lies a “words win” moment. I will give you a personal example in my powerlifting career. I placed second in a meet and was asked why I didn’t win. In this scenario, the best I could finish based on the competition I participated in was second place—a podium finish (podium finish usually means first through third place). You can’t change your strength levels overnight. I accomplished my best competitive squat at the time—635 lbs on my third attempt. My competition’s first attempt or opener was 800 lbs. I can’t just wake up and believe I’m going to squat 805 lbs to beat him. You get the picture. I beat everyone else, so I finished the best I could on that particular day. I know lifters who don’t even worry about their finish. They are worried about setting personal records so to them that’s a “words win.”

Let’s face it. Losing sucks. And when you’re losing, it affects everything. Let’s take the case of a college football team because this is what I’m closely associated with. It’s eerie to see the differences in a winning team versus a losing team. Believe me—I’ve been on both ends. When you’re winning, you seem to have fewer athletes missing or late to class, study hall, or meal checks. They generally aren’t getting in as much trouble off campus. They’re excited to practice. It isn’t 100 percent, but it’s much better than when you’re losing.

Obtaining a winning attitude in one area of your life will generally carry over to all aspects of your daily living if you let it. It’s hard to be a winner every time though, so let’s remember another mantra developed from my favorite coach and our leadership group—answer the scratch. Relentless determination is the passionate pursuit of excellence. The values that we followed were preparation, sacrifice, and courage. (We went to three consecutive bowls using this mantra and won two of them.)

Words win
That’s right—“word win.” This is a hard one to manage at times, especially when frustration and anger come into play. How you speak to someone—or better yet how you choose to speak to someone by the words you use—can make a conversation a positive one or a negative one. In my studies of the noble eightfold path, this is considered the ethical conduct of “right speech.” Remember the strength of words. They can make enemies of friends, start wars or create peace, or break or save lives. In the context of coaching, words can build confidence, morale, relationships, and lasting friendships or they can crush them all! This is a tough one and one that I’m constantly trying to improve. Remember what most people say—with age comes wisdom.

Actions speak louder than words
If you’re going to “talk the talk,” you need to “walk the walk.” Right speech needs to equal right action. If you’re going to say something, you need to take ownership of it and act accordingly. Right action in this case is very simple—do what’s right when no one is looking! For athletes, this is extremely easy and yet some make it hard. Go to class and be on time for all scheduled events. Skipping sets or reps in the weight room because the coach isn’t looking is just another form of a “It’s Not a Race for Last” person. You aren’t getting anyone over. In the long run, it will come back and bite you. My good friend and colleague, Jean Boyd, had one of the best sayings for this—“Are you a character or do you have character?”


Words win!The meaning is relative to your goals and actions, two simple words that go a long way. Hopefully, this made some sense to you and you can create your own “words win”moments. It makes sense to me, and it and I are a constant work in progress!