A Winner’s Mindset

Reading an interview with Tony Adams, something about the mentality of having a winning mindset struck me quite forcibly. Tony’s long and illustrious playing career with Arsenal and England ended in 2002. A survivor from the earlier George Graham side, he went on to star in the Wenger team that won the league and cup double in 1998 and again in 2002.

Tony began his management career in 2003 with Wycombe Wanderers and is today the manager of Gabala FC in Azerbaijan. The thing that struck me was his comment that he would rather be managing Gabala than Aston Villa and I believe him. He said that with Gabala, he had a chance of winning the league whereas with Aston Villa, he thought it would be impossible. There you have it: a unique insight into the mind of a winner.

Like many people who have been fans of the beautiful game since childhood, I would love to have a crack at managing a professional football team. The thought of being able to manage a premiership side would be awesome. The prospect of an offer to manage Gabala, with all due respect to the team and its supporters, does not fill me with enthusiasm and yet, it was exactly the opportunity that Tony was looking for.

He knows that when he wins the title with Gabala, other doors will begin to open for him. He understands that he is not yet ready to take a job as manager of a premiership team, but when the opportunity comes, he wants it to be the right one. After his brief spell at Portsmouth, Tony knows what it is like to manage a premiership team that is demotivated and under-performing. He does not want another opportunity like that.

With due respect to Aston Villa, he doesn’t want a chance to demonstrate how he could keep a team in the middle of the table; he wants an opportunity to win the title and he understands that his best chance of attracting that offer is with a track record of winning. It will be interesting to keep an eye on Tony’s management career to see if his approach works out for him.

In any case, I thought this represented an interesting life lesson. You could sum it up by saying that the ability to pick your battles well, knowing when and where to compete, is a solid success strategy because success breeds success. What you attract in the future is a product of your performance in the present. So I wonder if the same applies to you. Are you someone who picks his battles well and if not, is it something you could learn how to do?

Think of how your potential future employers will look at your CV (Resume). Will they see a record of demonstrable success or will they see a list of mediocre performance at high profile organisations? If you want to get the big opportunity perhaps, somewhat counter-intuitively, you need to take on a few jobs in the lower leagues that can allow you the time and space to really shine.

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