During my first season as head coach for St. Ignatius College Preparatory, I installed a new “Winning Process” mental philosophy that helped motivate players consistently perform at their high level. It worked! I was able to lay down the foundation and help improve the team from a 6-11 record the previous year to an 11-4 winning record.
To understand the Winning Process, we must first take a look at the two words individually: Process and Winning.
Gowans best explains my view of a process:
“ A process is not a thing, entity, or being, but an event, activity, or becoming. As a movement, a process has an important temporal character: it involves a continuous passage of becoming from past to present to future.”
– Christopher W. Gowans, author of Philosophy of the Buddha.
When I say “process,” envision a whirlpool. A whirlpool is simply rotating mass of water. You can see it in an ocean or in your shower drain. From moment to moment, the water that makes up the whirlpool is always different. Yet, no matter what type of water is thrown into the whirlpool nor how small or large it gets, it still can be identified as the same whirlpool despite being ever changing.
As with all processes, when the whirlpool stops rotating, it ceases to exist. If you want the process to exist, you must feed energy into it. You must rotate the water.
A whirlpool is probably the best visual example of a process, but in actuality everything in life can be understood as a process. The walls in your room. Our bodies. The game of tennis. This blog. Everything that exists in time and reality can be interpreted as a process because everything is ever changing.
“ Today I play every point to win. It’s simple and it’s good. I don’t worry about winning or losing the match, but whether or not I am making the maximum effort during every point because I realize that that is where the true value lies.”
– W. Timothy Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Tennis.
When I say “winning,” I’m not referring to the actual result of winning a tennis match, as Gallwey pointed out. Results are not something that we can truly control in any match. What we can control is our effort.
The Winning Process: The persistent and ongoing awareness that the right thoughts, actions and effort will lead to a successful and rewarding experience.
Winning Process Examples:
- Allowing yourself to be coached; staying humble
- Learning new techniques
- Maximizing effort; wanting to work hard
- Encouraging and supporting your teammates
- Respecting yourself and your opponents
- Being resilient
- Cleaning-up after practice or match is finished
- Leading by example
- Being focused on the present
If you’re not in the Winning Process, you’ll find yourself in the Distraction Process. You’ll become easily distracted by external events and your own internal thoughts. When you are distracted, you become easy to beat by your opponent simply because your attention is on irrelevance.
Distraction Process Examples:
- Spacing out; being bored
- Scolding your teammates
- Feeling stupid or awkward
- Feeling that you’re not good enough
- Being angry at yourself or your teammates
- Feeling irritated or annoyed by your opponent
- Letting noises (car alarms, people talking, etc.) affect you
- Expecting to be perfect
- Focusing on the past or future; not being present
Of course, we will at times be in the Distraction Process. It’s okay. We are not perfect. The key is the ability to refocus. If you find yourself in the Distraction Process, accept it. Simply notice. Then refocus your thoughts and actions back to the Winning Process. The more you refocus, the more you will find clarity and a better understanding of what to do.
Gowans, C.W. (2003). Philosophy of the Buddha. New York, NY: Routledge
Gallwey, W.T. (1974). The Inner Game of Tennis. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.