3 Tough Decisions That Could Help You Improve

Winning means doing the things others aren't willing to do.

In 2012, Serena Williams made a tough decision. For her entire life in tennis, she had been coached by her parents, and they had done a great job. They helped her develop a winning mindset and attitude. She had worked with other mentors or coaches temporarily to get past obstacles, but she never had an official coach other than her father or mother.

But in 2012, she had lost confidence, had failed to achieve a grand slam victory in almost two years, and could tell it was time for a change.

She called Patrick Mouratoglou one day when she was staying in Paris to ask if she could train at his academy while she was in town. They met a few times, and she made her decision. She would hire a new coach, and she wouldn’t ask for her family’s approval.

Serena wasn’t victorious at the French Open a few weeks ago, but in the four years that she has been working with Coach Mouratoglou, she has won 29 career titles. Tennis experts have called her decision a “master stroke.”

What can give you a winning edge? Doing the tough things that need to be done to improve. Click To Tweet

Want to make a big jump forward? Tired of slow, small progress? Worried that you’re starting to slide backward? Then maybe it’s time for you to give yourself the gift of a tough decision that could free you up to make dramatic progress right now.

Sometimes, we hit a wall in our growth and improvement. Even winners, who know that the key to success is to always be improving. If we don’t make a tough choice that will get us past that wall, we can’t move forward to the great things beyond it. The most successful people regularly make tough decisions about three big things that can keep us from greatness.

1. Make Tough Decisions About Your Environment

We hear the same story over and over with child actors, singers, or musicians. The parents see their kid’s potential and say, “If we stay in Small Town, Anywhere, she’s never going to achieve much.” They pack up, make big sacrifices, and move away from family and friends to an environment where the kid will have better teachers and more opportunity.

Founders of companies do the same thing. They start-up and max out their growth with the local or regional market and talent pool. Then they relocate to a bigger city with a bigger market and a better talent pool.

Each of us has to ask, “Is my environment helping me grow, or holding me back?”

Sometimes these tough decisions don’t work out the way people had hoped. But wouldn’t it be worse to avoid the decision and never know what might have been possible.

2. Make Tough Decisions About Your Coach, Mentor, or Leader

One of the chief ways that we improve is by learning from others. A great coach, mentor, or leader can make a huge difference in a life. We become attached, loyal. We can’t imagine not working with that talented person who has given us so much.

The hard truth is that eventually, we outgrow most of these people. They have important things to teach, but once we’ve learned and even mastered what they have to offer, we have to find somebody else to take us to the next level.

You see it with professional athletes, just like Serena, all the time. They switch coaches and suddenly they’re rising up in the rankings. They switch teams, and suddenly they’re playing better than they ever have. Of course, they had to be coachable for the coaching to work.

Loyalty is important in life, but people who have your best interests at heart won’t be hurt when you move on to the next big growth opportunity. The winning mindset is this: Be thankful, be gracious, and maintain your relationships, but do the things necessary to keep improving.

3. Make Tough Decisions About Your Investment or Commitment

Environment and coaching are critical to improving. But the biggest decider of how far we’ll go? Us.

Sometimes you hit a wall and you realize that everything’s in place for you to slingshot forward. What’s missing is your commitment and investment of energy and effort. You have to ask, “Is this important enough to me to buckle down and make it my number one priority?”

You see this in kids all the time. They’re interested in all sorts of things, involved in lots of activities and sports. As time goes by, one thing after another falls away until they are spending every afternoon on the thing that really matters. Sometimes, it might not even be the thing that they enjoy the most at the time. But it’s the thing that will bring them closer to their long-term goals: scholarships to college, having a shot at being a professional athlete or musician, earning accolades that might give them a leg up in applications or in their future career.

What wall is in your way? What tough decision could free you up to take a big leap forward? Not sure? Here’s a test: What’s the problem that keeps rising up in front of you and that you keep avoiding? Answer that honestly, and you’ll see the decision you need to make.

Develop a winning mindset by confronting the tough decisions and making them with speed and grace.

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