Winning versus enjoyment: what matters more?

The tension between the two is one that many high performers struggle with. I got this question recently, and the person said, “it’s not just about winning – but it’s ultimately all about winning.”

This conundrum can create a lot of inner conflict without the mental model to resolve it.

You can be left oscillating between an unhealthy win-at-all-costs mentality that leaves you frustrated and consumed with the results. Or on the other end, you lose the competitive fire needed to perform at your best.

In this recent video, I share the mental models to resolve this age-old conundrum. I’ll briefly walk you through three concepts below (make sure to watch the video for more details and diagrams).

1) Internal Experience vs External Results

Comparing enjoyment versus winning is comparing an internal experience (e.g., enjoyment), versus the external result (e.g., winning, stats, etc.). They are not dependent on each other and the goal is to have both. But they’re very different and we want to treat them differently.

This is why that question of enjoyment versus winning can inherently just be misleading. Nonetheless, the goal here is to help you process and decide what you want to prioritize.

2) Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

The mistake athletes and high performers make, as they climb the ranks, is to confuse their external goals and results as to why they play. You can have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but the best athletes in the world stay connected to their intrinsic drivers.

3) Choose Your Priority

You have to choose what your priority is. What is the number one thing?

Most people make the mistake that their achievements are their priority (e.g., what I want to have, what I want to achieve, the results of the winning).

They only focus on who they’re going to be in the experience (e.g., play with confidence) in order to get those results. The paradox is this makes their mindset worse and less likely to achieve the results.

But when you flip the priorities, when you focus first on who you want to be, how you want to show up – aka Mindset First — that’s when you get clarity, that’s when the actions flow and the results, well, they’re not guaranteed, but the probability is now going to go up.

And the best part is you’re more likely to enjoy the whole experience and the journey.

Who Do You Choose To Be?

There’s an important point to clarify here. When you focus on who you’re being (your mindset), and the enjoyment in that, you’re not sacrificing competitive fire or killer instinct.

You’re often heightening it because you are intentionally choosing to be in attack mode. By playing with more patience and aggressiveness you will have more poise

The Big Trap

Most people will focus on their mindset because that’s going to lead to better results.

But this is the big trap – you are prioritizing the results again.

Instead, I want you to prioritize the process for the sake of itself. This is where enjoyment comes from, because enjoyment is not just dependent on results.

It is about who you are, the process, the game itself, and the experience. That is what evokes enjoyment.

This is a lot easier said than done. The results are everywhere – stats, social media, standings, cultural norms. People are talking and obsessing about results.

But when you can prioritize the process over the results – that’s what I call the realm of the super elite.

Make sure to watch the full video for more details and diagrams.

Please share this with anyone you think would be interested.