What Makes a Winner Win (Backed by Science)
You see successful people around you, on social media and TV. Lawyers who win cases. Athletes who attain gold medals. Singers who win talent competitions.
Are you wondering how do they do it?
Most people believe that those who are successful have talent, and that they don’t have it. Nothing can be done — end of story.
I am sure that you are different. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
And you are absolutely right. There is a secret to what makes someone a winner. Psychologists have done much research on this and here are the results.
1. With Whom Are You Competing?
If you want to win, you need to know your opponents so you can become better than them. When it’s about winning a case you need more information than your opponents have. If it’s a sports competition, you need to train more than your opponents do.
2. Home vs Away
Once you have learnt about your opponents, it’s better to play at home if you wish to win. In 2003, a study conducted by Nick Neave and Sandy Wolfson showed that players have a greater rise in testosterone levels when they play at home, and they tend to win.
In this case, your natural instincts are triggered. While you are in a sports competition, subconsciously you are acting like you are defending your territory.
3. It’s Important to Know Who is in Charge
If you want to win, you need to take full responsibility. Remember, YOU are in charge. A study conducted at the University of Valencia by E. Gonzalez-Bono and her colleagues showed that members of Team 1 who felt that making an effort was necessary to achieve a win, had a more significant rise in testosterone levels – and they won.
Team 2, whose players relied more on luck showed decreased vigour, and they lost.
What else makes a winner?
4. Personality A vs Personality B
This study conducted by Edith Filaire and her colleagues has demonstrated that winners have personality A. Those displaying Type A behaviour are ambitious, impatient, react to frustration with hostility, and feel pressured for time. Their behaviour is motivated by an intense need to maintain personal control over their environment.
Type B behaviour is defined as the relative absence of pattern A characteristics. Check this guide if you want to become more motivated and learn how to overcome procrastination.
5. Does Stress Help You?
It’s normal to get a little bit stressed just before a competition, especially, if it involves exhausting muscular exercise. However, in a study conducted by Edith Filaire and her colleagues anxiety levels before a competition were significantly higher in participants who lost.
On the other hand, winners tend to calm down after a while. You need to do the same – calm down.
Remember advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger:
‘‘In order to perform well in anything, whether it’s in boxing or in your job, or with your thinking, it’s only happening when you relax. So, relax. Let’s just go all out and give it everything you have got.’’
6. Active Coping vs Passive Coping
Winners show active coping patterns in stress situations. Active coping is when you perceive your stress as a challenge. As a result, you have a better mood, high levels of testosterone and SNS (sympathetic nervous system) activation. This response is known as fight or flight response.
People who lose, exhibit the opposite characteristics. They are more stressed. Their mood is negative, and their testosterone levels are lower.
In other words, you need to become more aggressive if you want to win.
7. One Step at a Time
Build your confidence by winning little battles if you want to win a war.
In a study conducted by Alicia Salvador and her colleagues, participants who had already secured victories in competitions had a more significant rise in testosterone levels during a further competition. Even if you have won once, your testosterone levels are higher before the next competition. You fight better and win again.
Another piece of advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger:
‘’When you have one little victory, little victories add up, and that is what ultimately gives you confidence.’’
8. Plan A vs Plan B
There is one more detail. Sometimes, you will win because your opponents will give up.
Now, when does this happen?
If you show them determination, convince them that you are not going to give up and you will fight even more instead, they will most likely give up. In this situation you let your opponents know that you don’t have and don’t want to have a plan B.
Let’s remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice again:
‘’I hate plan B…When you start doubting yourself, that’s very dangerous. When you start thinking about plan B, you are taking that thought and energy from plan A. It’s very important to understand that we function better without a safety net because plan B becomes a safety net.”
Now you know the secret of what makes a winner.
After a victory, you will feel powerful and strong. You will have more energy, which is an essential source of optimism and confidence.
You will also have a better will and focus when tackling a new task or pursuing a new goal.
Victory feels so good that you can’t stop smiling, you are shining like a STAR!
What are you waiting for, IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE!
Filaire, E., Maso, F., Sagnol, M., Ferrand, C. and Lac, G. (2001). Anxiety, hormonal responses, and coping during a judo competition. Aggressive Behavior, 27(1), pp.55-63.
Gonzalez-Bono E, e. (2019). Testosterone, cortisol, and mood in a sports team competition. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10049603 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].
Neave, N. and Wolfson, S. (2019). Testosterone, territoriality, and the ‘home advantage’.
Salvador, A. (2005). Coping with competitive situations in humans. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 29(1), pp.195-205.
Salvador, A., Simón, V., Suay, F. and Llorens, L. (2019). Testosterone and cortisol responses to competitive fighting in human males: A pilot study.