The Right Stuff of Winners

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Retirement has a lot of great things going for it. The two biggest advantages are freedom and time. You have the ability to get up when you want, do what you want, say what you want and have the time to do it all. My alarm clock was sold at a yard sale long ago and the stack of 3x5 notecards once used for daily to-do lists was tossed aside. Now, there’s time for browsing through the chest of memories and mentally giving thanks for the people and events that make life worthwhile.

As I reflect back over my nearly 80 years, I think about how I’ve been influenced by some profound winners. I must credit relationships with them for almost every success I’ve had in life. They all shared the same traits that made them movers and shakers or agents of change with the ability to motivate others. I would like to share my observations with you with the hope that in some way I can pay it forward and convey those characteristics that might enhance your life and make you a winner, too.

Winners serve others. This is such a common trait that it appears to be a prerequisite for achieving positions of leadership. The more people you serve, the higher your position in life will be. The more one dwells on improving the lives of others, the more one is perceived as a leader. As a business owner, this means keeping the focus on the well being of your employees and ensuring services provided to the customer are for their benefit.

Winners are innovative. They are agents of change when the things being changed make other things better. They don’t wait to see what’s going to happen; they make things happen. They establish the goal and then determine the route to get there, doing whatever it takes to reach it. Regardless of your status or position, there exists a better way of doing your job. Only results count. Action must be taken for results to occur.

Winners are like sponges. They readily absorb the information and favorable influence of others. Maximize the benefit of conventions by proactively communicating with other operators. Benefit from their experiences. Learn the best ideas, as well as mistakes to avoid. Hold employee meetings and encourage their input for new ideas and a fresh approach to accomplishing the job. Your team has a lot of valuable ideas. Give them the opportunity to convey them to you.

Winners are honest and trustworthy. They don’t lie, cheat or steal for personal gain. Ironically, their focus on improving others’ lives seems to fuel their attainment of wealth. As wealth is accumulated, it becomes a tool for further service through expansion of the business or franchising, creating more jobs and contributing to the economy.

Winners are persistent. Challenges and obstacles are perceived as opportunities and overcoming them brings a unique satisfaction. When others say, “It can’t be done,” winners find a way. They think positively and assume winning is the natural order of things.

Winners, like poker players, consider risk versus reward. Fast lube owners are experiencing some degree of risk most every minute of the day, and the winners among them balance those risks with the probability of successful outcomes. All worthwhile goals involve risk. The key is in the balance of it.

Winners are well aware that no man is an island and proactively maintain many channels of support. Favorable relationships are maintained with family, vendors, bankers, employees, advertisers, business associations, civic clubs and political entities. All play some role in ultimately providing superior customer service.

Winners seek out win/win relationships where both parties benefit. Win/win is essential for any successful endeavor. It must be in place for employer/employee relationships, suppliers, leases, financing and as a customer perception. When either party loses, a successful conclusion rarely results.

Winners are never satisfied. They continually seek out better ways of doing things, higher numbers to attain and keep moving their goals to a higher level. They absorb meaningful advice and actively work to improve themselves and their surroundings.

Winners relish time behind the podium and develop the ability to convey their thoughts and ideas to others. Public speaking is seen as a way to serve a larger group. The thought, “How can my words benefit this audience?” is a part of every session, whether it be a formal speech or meeting with a half dozen employees.

Winners don’t only accept responsibility, they seek responsibility. There is an innate desire to be in control of their environment and contribute to the success of whatever is involved. They accept mistakes as learning steps to ultimately achieve their goals. If you ain’t the lead dog, the view never changes. To be a winner, one must have the desire to be in control and relish making the decisions.

Winners understand the importance of charisma, perception and appearance. They walk, talk and dress like winners. They create favorable perceptions rather than leave them to chance.

Winners exist in every level of society. Status or education doesn’t seem to be predominating factors in determining a winner. What works at the top works equally as well at the bottom. The individual’s attitude appears to be the most important ingredient for success. I’ve been blessed with sufficient years to see young lube techs advance to manager and owner positions, retire as senior military officers, become effective politicians and attain leadership positions in many professions. In every case, the winners thought outside themselves and worked for the betterment of all those around them. Their position wasn’t just a job, it was a learning opportunity.

For all those winners I’ve known — and for the inspiration and acumen that rubbed off — I will always be grateful.

JOE HAGGARD writes from a customer’s point of view and is a retired fast lube consultant. He welcomes comments at 352.861.1985 or via email:

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