Over the coming days, your favourite paper will run columns by members of the ET Startup Awards 2016 jury on what they look for in a winner. The first in the series is by serial entrepreneur Vani Kola
Vince Lombardi famously said that winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.
Is anyone a born entrepreneur, a born leader or born to win? I believe everyone is born to win but you have to make winning a habit. Think of this: a quitter never wins, a winner never quits. I have been privileged to share the dream and journey of many entrepreneurs. A few traits are habits with all of them. A winner is a believer. Belief in oneself and one’s convictions that inner voice of core strength to pursue dreams despite difficulties.
Along the way everyone they meet gets swept up in their dreams and aspirations. This belief is rooted in a bigger purpose than self-satisfaction. Winners are great listeners. They learn continuously; they take inputs; they don’t think they have all the answers; and they are confident to have the humility to hear other points of view.
Listening is about striving for comprehension and making oneself open to possibilities. Winners value self-development. They constantly challenge themselves and set aggressive goals and often surpass expectations. They make organizational learning a priority Winners are unstoppable. They don’t count hurdles. They don’t brood about failures and risks. They are activators.
They have a clear compass on why they keep trying and what they set out to achieve. Hence they have the edge to get up, dust themselves off, and set out again and again.
Winners are decisive. They chart the course and make choices all the time while being transparent and suffused with a clarity of purpose. They are less prone to procrastination. They are resilient to change and very effective in communicating their decisions. Another word for this is nimbleness, and in these times, this quality is essential to innovate.
Is all this too much to ask? Of late, too often, I read are we expecting too much from young entrepreneurs. Was too much expected of Alexander when he became king at 20 and set out to conquer the world?
Or of Akbar who inherited the empire at the age of 14? Being a founder, building a high-velocity organization is no doubt high-pressure, but isn’t it a choice? Isn’t competing in the Olympics different from playing cricket in your backyard?
Over the years, I have a more nuanced take about winning itself. Winning doesn’t always mean being first; winning means you are doing better than you have done before.
And as the American orator Robert Green Ingersoll, observed, ‘The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.’ Best of all, remember to keep life in balance. Have friends, family, and dogs that truly stand by you.
“I have three dogs at home. Even after losing a series or winning a series, they treat me the same way” Mahendra Singh Dhoni.