Alexandre Lim

Winning: The Unforgiving Race to GreatnessBy Tim S. Grover

I don't know anything about Basketball, but I heard about some famous players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. This book was written by Tim S. Grover, who coached both of them. It tells what is needed to win and keep winning at the highest level. But it's more than just winning; it's a way of life. The book is radical, but there's much to learn. It's for you if you want to reach and stay at the top.


Winning is everywhere. Every minute, you have the potential to recognize an opportunity, push yourself harder, let go of insecurity and fear, stop listening to what others tell you, and decide to own that moment. And not just that one single moment, but the next one, and the next. And before long, you’ve owned the hour, and the day, and the month. Again. Again. That’s how you win.

If you can survive the battlefield in your mind and tolerate fear, doubt, and loneliness… Winning would like a word with you.

Winning is the ultimate gamble on yourself. The difference between dreaming about what could be and actually living it.

Winning is unforgiving. If you screw up, lay down, or show weakness, you're done.

Winning is unapologetic. You can be replaced. You will be replaced.

If you’re comfortable with sacrifice and pressure and criticism and pain and if you can learn to focus on the result instead of always focusing on the difficulty… you can chase Winning, fight for it, and defend your right to catch it.

Motivation is for those who haven’t decided whether to commit to their goals or how much time, effort, and life they’re willing to invest to achieve them.

There’s nothing normal about Winning. If you need normal and if you need to fit in, be prepared for a long stay in the middle of the pack.

Winning requires you to be different, and different scares people. So if you’re worried about what others will say, the long-term effects, the sacrifices you’ll make, the sleep you’ll lose, your family being angry… I can’t help you with that. There’s nothing “typical” about the lifestyle and choices you’ll have to make. Winning is inside all of us, but for most, that’s where it will stay, trapped under a lifetime of fear, worry, and doubt.

Winning will give you the chair with one broken leg, so you can never get comfortable. You’d better be able to speak its language.

I need you to have a coat of Teflon, so nothing sticks to you and nothing gets in. The more you allow others to get under your skin, so every comment feels like criticism, and every criticism makes you lash out, the more that protective coating will wear away until the hard outer shell becomes soft and weak.

Winning has zero tolerance for soft and weak.

When you start apologizing for who you are, you stop growing and winning. Permanently.

Stop being afraid of what you’ll become. You should be more afraid of not becoming that.

If you think like everyone else, act like everyone else, and follow the same protocols, traditions, and habits as everyone else, guess what: You’ll be like everyone else.

It was about understanding the difference between knowing how to think and being told what to think.

When you know what to think, you’re ready to compete. When you know how to think, you’re ready to win.

Your education teaches you what to think. Life experience teaches you how to think. In school, you’re tested after you learn. In life, the test comes before you learn.

If you’re always reading self-help books, listening to motivational talkers, and following inspirational geniuses on social media and podcasts, if you can’t decide without consulting mentors and masterminds… you’re being told what to think.

Winning demands that you look past “the right way” and create your way.

Your nonnegotiables must be things you and only you can control. The food you eat. The effort you commit. The words you speak. The results you deliver.

When you’re in the race to win, you spend every night sleeping with the enemy. And that enemy is you: the one person who knows all your weaknesses and fears and knows everything you crave and dread and never stops using them against you.

Winning loves that battle: How much can you take? How far can I push you? Are you having fun yet?

No one forced you into those choices. You just weren’t prepared to win those battles. I’ve watched great players lose everything because they couldn’t make that mental leap from wanting to win to making it happen.

Get the results, and the brand will build itself.

Do yourself a favor: Either do them or admit you’re never doing them and move on.

Distractions can be fatal to your goals if you don’t manage them. Notice I said “manage,” not “eliminate.”

To me, routines are freedom if you use them correctly. They allow you to take action with certainty and purpose; they remove the variables and speed bumps that slow you down.

He practiced and played in a routine as well. He started with a chest pass every time he warmed up in practice. The greatest player in the world, working on a basic chest pass. Why? Routine. Basics. Fundamentals. The court was his battlefield, and he knew where all the mines were planted. If you can’t master the fundamentals, you can’t master anything else.

His routine allowed him the mental freedom and clarity to focus on the game's complexity and manage every variable that stood between himself and a win. He planned for the unpredictable and structured his life to minimize its impact on his performance.

A routine may allow you to set a portion of your journey on autopilot, but to get to your ultimate destination, you will need total control over the outcome.

Every routine has to factor in the possibility of uncertainty. If you prepare only for one scenario, you cannot survive the volatility of real-game conditions. True in sports, true in business, true in life.

Action originates in your thoughts. Winning will pull you in one direction, but your mind will pull you back: It’s too tough. I didn’t expect this. I’m not ready. I’m not good enough.

Winning needs you to stop occasionally, land, listen, see, smell, learn, and understand. If all you can do is go, you will eventually run right past Winning and not even recognize it.

But above all, they had this in common: They each possessed unshakable confidence in themselves that never wavered.

The greats don’t need to be told what to do. They already know and always find a way to make the gamble pay off.

Are you working toward things that look crazy to others but make perfect sense to you? Are you betting on your own belief in your ability and vision, even when everyone else can’t see it and wants you to stop? Don’t stop. Excellence is lonely. No one will ever understand what you’ve gone through to get where you are.

Confident people are their own special breed of killers; you can’t break them because they’ve already been broken over and over. That’s how they became so confident in the first place: not from others telling them how good they are and throwing confetti and parades, but by being pushed down and kicked and laughed at and by learning for themselves how strong they really are. By being in the worst possible situation and having the confidence to believe: We’re getting out of this mess.

Confidence is feeling as low as you’ve ever felt in your life and knowing you’ll recover stronger than you were before.

Confident people don’t live in the past; they remember what happened, but they don’t let it affect their ability to move forward. They understand that losing is inevitable and recover as quickly as possible to eliminate the stink.

Winning requires you to set unrealistic goals and expect to achieve them. That doesn’t mean chasing unattainable dreams; it means making smart, educated, and confident decisions about what you can achieve. Life is so short; it feels as if you’ll never have enough time to enjoy your wins and create new ones.

When you’re stuck in one place, scared to try something new, and feeling trapped in a life you don’t really want, every day is endless, and the regret lasts forever.

If you think the cost is too high, wait until you get the bill for doing nothing.

Their minds were stronger than their feelings. Remember: MIND > FEELINGS.

When you’re so intensely dedicated to what you’re working for, you have to accept that others just won’t get it. They don’t see what you see because they can’t even imagine what you see.

The Zone is about calmness and clarity. Emotions are the complete opposite.

Stop telling your teams to play with emotion. Emotions are volatile, unpredictable, and erratic, especially when multiple emotions are bubbling up simultaneously. You don’t want them playing with emotion. You want them playing with energy. Huge difference.

You want energy. Focus. Intensity. You want to be alert, aggressive, and strong. None of those are emotions, they are a state of mental power. You want your mind locked in so you don’t even feel the nerves and pressure that come with competition.

Control your thoughts, and you control your emotions. Control your emotions, and you control your actions. Control your actions, and you control the outcome.

Performing with anger can work for you if it’s your natural response to competition and you know how to control it. Otherwise, you’ll lose control in the heat of the moment, without the ability to control what follows.

No one teaches you to stop. Stopping allows you to learn. Adapt. Focus. Calculate. Strategize. It puts your mind back in control and gets your feelings in check. Everyone tells you to do more. But more isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more of what you don’t really want.

Some people love competing for anything, but without real focus or objective. They love the chase but don’t invest the time or skills to catch what they’re chasing. So they go after everything and never really get ahead in anything. But they’re “competitive.”

Being competitive and being a winner aren’t the same thing.

The ability to compete is in all of us. You compete for something every minute of the day with every decision you make.

You must compete at a higher level every day than before. Small decisions. Little changes. New challenges. Bigger ambitions. You’re not going to make a million bucks, build your empire, or win a championship in one day. You’re going to compete for it every day for infinite days. That’s how you become not just a competitor but a true competitor: You get better every day for a long time. Not accidentally, but intentionally.

Competition isn’t about getting loud and vicious and excited. You can be the kindest, most gentle person in the world and still be competitive in every way. This is about quiet desire. Hunger. Adrenaline. Pain. Fatigue. Envy. Pressure. So much pressure.

We waste so much time discussing how we will win that we forget the most important thing: actually winning. There’s a big difference between hanging motivational slogans on your wall and actually doing what those slogans tell you.

Competition isn’t just about the grind, it’s about grinding for results. It’s about doing work that actually works.

These parents all want desperately to know: How do you “teach” competitiveness? You don’t teach it. You can inspire it, you can set an example, and you can talk about expectations. But you can’t teach someone to want something. Winning is all about you. You can’t compete— you can’t feel that desire and focus and hunger— for something you don’t really want. And you can’t want it for someone else.

Competition tells you what you really want. It responds to your desires, emotions, and instinctive craving so much that you’ll crawl through hell and back to get what you crave. You don’t even have to think about it; you just know: That is mine.

You can’t achieve balance in all areas of your life.

Time for everything equals time for nothing. And winning at nothing.

There is no balance for those who are committed to Winning. Stop fighting it, stop feeling guilty about it, and stop looking for it. And start creating a life on your terms that work for you and your goals so everyone can win.

A sense of balance is personal, and it’s different for everyone. You don’t find it by trying to make everyone happy; you create it by taking a hard look at what you really want and what it will take to have that in your life. Your life, no one else’s.

Why is it so hard to say no? I know you want to help people, be nice, and show that you can take on everything and make it all work. But Winning doesn’t need you to do any of those things. Winning needs you to win.

Stop spending time you don’t have on people you don’t like, doing things you don’t want to do. What do you want? More time to work? More focus on your goals? More time in your relationship? More time to yourself? Figure it out and make a decision. Otherwise, you won’t be happy with anything.

It is that easy when you know what you want and what you don’t want. If you want to win, if you want success, I mean really want it— not just kinda sorta want it if things work out— you’ll know for sure what you do not GAF about and what to delete.

Stop depriving yourself of what you need to perform at the highest level. You need to be able to focus. You need sleep. You need to eat well. You need to stay healthy. Stop feeling guilty about taking care of yourself. It’s essential if you’re going to go the distance, and it’s the best way to take care of everyone else who’s relying on you.

Living without balance means asking others in your life to understand, support, and wait. It takes a strong and confident person to stand with you while you chase your dreams and put everything else in your life on hold. Someone who believes in you and what you’re doing understands that a win for you is a win for everyone in your circle. It takes someone as fucked up as you are.

It doesn’t mean working in the same business or even doing the same job. It means being aligned with what each of you needs to do, with total mutual respect and support. Without that, it’s a broken partnership.

Selfishness requires you to stand by your choices and be courageous about the backlash.

There’s a difference between selfish winners and selfish losers. A selfish loser takes from everyone, doesn’t know how to use what he’s taken, and no one benefits, including the loser.

We’re talking about the ability to focus on yourself for all the right reasons. Selfish winners give to themselves, so they can ultimately give to others. They give themselves confidence. Courage. Clarity. They give themselves time, space, and focus; they give themselves the freedom to win.

Start doing things no one else is doing, things they don’t approve of or understand, and you’ll hear about it.

Fact: You can’t help all of those other people until you can first help yourself. You must get comfortable with that. You can’t create your wins without prioritizing your own goals and dreams.

Allies understand what you need and are fighting for, and you know they’ll fight with you without a doubt. Friends sometimes feel threatened by your success. Allies understand that your success doesn’t detract from theirs.

Selfishness comes with serious responsibility. If you’re going to put yourself first, there has to be an outcome and result that makes it all worthwhile. Did you win? Did your selfishness allow you to create something positive? Did it move you further along to where you need to be? Did it benefit you in a way that made you feel good about your decision, even if no one else agreed with you? Are you willing to pay the price for that?

How often have you walked away from the opportunity to improve in some way? When you knew what you had to do but didn’t do it. How often have you tried “reinventing” yourself instead of investing in who you already are?

Invest in your education and your skills.

Winning requires a combination of street education, formal education, common sense— which is not always that common— and uncommon sense because Winning is definitely uncommon.

They understood that if you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results. So to improve, they had to put in new work, different work.

Your first trip to hell is terrifying. By the second or third visit, you know what to expect, and what has to be done. Resilience isn’t built in your comfort zone but in hell.

I don’t think there’s a lonelier experience than looking for answers, finding none, and realizing you’re at the crossroads of your life: Either you fight your way out of the hell you’re in, or start accepting that you’ll be there forever.

If you don’t want more for yourself, that’s fine, someone else will get that win. Instead, your hell becomes never knowing what could have been, never having more or doing more for yourself. That’s the hell of complacency, the hell of average. It’s quiet. There’s no rage or fire. Just a silent hell of nothingness.

When you feel fear and can’t trust anything else, you must be able to trust yourself.

You trust yourself to handle whatever you’re dealing with, and don’t allow your fear to escalate into uncontrollable doubt.

Fear shows up on its own. Doubt has to be invited. Fear heightens your awareness; it makes you alert. Doubt is the opposite; it slows you down and paralyzes your thinking. Fear is about playing to win. Doubt is about playing to not lose.

When you hear bad news, when you’re backed into a corner, and when you realize things are about to go against you, you have two choices: allow the fear to elevate to panic, or put your resilience to work and keep going.

Everyone is going to fail, but everyone is not going to win.

For almost everyone, losing is inevitable.

Stop looking for others to save you. Your greatest partners and allies are already inside you, and they’re always talking to you.

Everyone has a dark side. But not everyone can admit it.

That’s the transformative power of the dark side. It will take you where you want to go if you allow it. But it has to come from within you because each individual's dark side is personal. It’s the result of everything you’ve won and lost, your disappointments, your fears, and your achievements.

If you really want to identify the source of your dark side, try this: Take all the disappointments in your life— everyone who said no, everyone who teased you, every job you lost, every game you lost, every time someone said you weren’t good enough, every relationship that ended badly— and imagines laying them all in front of you. Just spread them out all over an imaginary table.

The dark side is about total focus and tunnel vision on what’s in front of you, not a million untamed emotions about things that happened in your lifetime. Those things are there, they’re always with you, but when you’re chasing a win, all your focus needs to be on that win.

You’re not trying to prove others wrong, you’re proving yourself right.

The dark side allows you to use your abilities to their fullest. The darker side— and this is key— compensates for the abilities you don’t have.

The darker you get, the quieter you need to be, so your results can do the talking for you.

Greater darkness requires greater isolation. Winners make decisions alone, and they deal with the backlash alone. They worry alone. They work alone. And they feel alone, even when they’re surrounded by millions.

To have what you really want, you first must be who you really are.

For too many people, it’s easier to fake success than achieve it. All their energy goes into looking like a winner, instead of doing the work to actually be a winner.

If you can’t get enough sleep, it’s not a badge of honor; it’s a weakness that shows you’re not getting enough done during the day.

Winning demands that you show up with purpose, intention, and discipline.

Showing up is in your control, in every way. It means being physically and mentally present when you’d rather be doing something else. Putting your long-term goals ahead of short-term pleasures and controlling those pleasures for the long run. Staying in the race when you’re hurting and struggling. Because one day you won’t be able to show up, and it won’t be your choice.

Showing up is knowing that the life we’ve been given is temporary. Tomorrow is here permanently. So is Winning. We are not.

You’re telling me what you need, but what are you willing to give?

When you’re serious about Winning, every plan has to be Plan A. You don’t have the luxury of lying to yourself about all your other options. They don’t exist.

Too many options equal too many excuses and ways to get stuck. Should I do this? Or that? Maybe this is better? What do you think? You’re so busy fabricating options that you can’t make a decision. It’s a simple choice: You can fail, or you can succeed. Pick one. Act on it.

The more options you add, the less likely you will get the desired result.

What the hell does it mean when people say, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”? If you don’t care about the destination, why take the journey?

Most people never think about running out of time. They look ahead and see days, months, and years of empty dates on the calendar, assuming they have plenty of time to fill them.

Stop managing time, and start managing your focus.

It’s not about how much time you have left, it’s about how much you can still do in the minutes, hours, weeks, and months that remain.

The State of Focus isn’t the same as the Zone. The Zone is unconscious; your skills and expertise are so highly developed that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. The action just flows. Focus is highly conscious; it requires you to be sharp and aware of every moment and allows you to work on skills so intently that you eventually no longer have to think about them. You just execute. You can’t enter the Zone until you’ve mastered focus; focus is the training ground.

Winning is everything. Because it is. Every day, in everything you do, your wins are waiting for you. They’re everywhere. But they won’t wait forever. Stop waiting to be told what you can and can’t do. Stop watching others win while you stand on the sidelines, wondering when it will be your turn. Your turn is now. Long-term goals are great… but “long term” isn’t promised to anyone. Your skills and opportunities have an expiration date. If you want something, go get it now.

The biggest mistake we make in life is thinking we have time.

Winners have one fear, and it isn’t about losing. They can come back from a loss, they can find another way to win. They fear not having enough time.

People say Winning makes them feel alive. And it does. But it also brings you closer to life’s end because the longer it takes to capture your wins, the less time you have to enjoy them, repeat them, or learn from them. That’s the unforgiving race— every day, your time grows shorter.

Winners know they’ll lose time, friends, money, courage, and strength— but they never lose belief in themselves because they’re driven to win. They can’t accept the alternative.

Everyone who has finished something has one thing in common: the urge to quit. There’s not a winner out there who hasn’t thought about quitting at some point. You can’t commit to winning until you’ve tasted the urge to quit.

No matter how intense, competitive, and driven you may be, don’t shut out the opportunity to be in the moment, to embrace what you have, and hold on to it for as long as you can.

Last Updated

July 22nd, 2022