No person and no team thinks they’re soft.
They think they’re tough. They think they are solid, committed and paying a bigger price than everyone else. They think they are obsessed, out-working everyone and destined for greatness. But most are living in denial. Most are soft.
What’s softness? What’s toughness?
Softness is that basic default tendency to start making excuses in tough times rather than buckle down and find a way to win in spite of whatever goes wrong.
Toughness is that determination that kicks in in the most difficult times that drives you to stay focused, shut up, and keep fighting until you overcome what’s standing in your way and win. It’s the will to win that only repeat winners have.
Here’s the big difference.
Softies will fight and win as long as there are no surprises and everything goes perfectly according to plan. Unfortunately life never goes like that. There are ALWAYS things that go wrong. When they do the softies throw up their hands, say “oh, my!” and spew excuses as fast as they can think them up. They run away mentally at crunch time.
They want to hide the truth, even from themselves. What’s usually the truth? They slacked off, they lost confidence, they panicked, they lost their focus. They started doubting. Bottom line—somewhere along the way they gave up, before it was over.
But that crunch moment is exactly the moment the tough kick into another level of intensity. They attack, overcome and win anyway. That’s what makes them winners.
The softies don’t understand why they got beat.
If not for that one thing, they say, we would have won. That’s how they lie to themselves. The truth is: they lost. They got beat and for now, they’re losers. That’s a truth that’s just too cruel for them to admit. So they hide under excuses. If they would face up to it they could improve, but they just can’t. So they remain losers.
The Dallas Cowboys think it’s just a matter of time. If they just keep on keeping on, good things will happen. They’ll win that championship, they are on track for greatness. That’s how the Dallas Cowboys operate. They’re just soft and refuse to admit it.
But they aren’t going to move up. The poor Cowboys have been on this excuse making, blame everything but themselves merry-go-round since 1997, stuck in Groundhog Day like denial mode. So you have to wonder if they’re even capable of seeing the truth.
The tough can spot softness.
The soft can’t see it. The tough can recognize it because they have been there. They’ve gotten past it after bitter experience. They got beat, humiliated and run over. They had to learn the hard way.
What are the signs of softness, or more precisely, weakness?
- Lack of humility.
- Lack of seasoning.
- Lack of experience in tough competition.
- The tendency to unravel, panic and lose focus when pressure increases. You can count on them when things go well, but as soon as something goes wrong, they fall apart.
- They can’t think on their feet.
- They don’t have enough resiliency to hang in there and keep fighting until they find another way to pull out the win.
- They never accept that it’s their fault they lost—there’s always something else to blame. They see themselves as victims of things out of their control, and so they just keep getting beat.
Want to go from soft and losing to tougher and winning? Then admit it—you’re not tough enough yet to win, and then go to work to develop that last bit of attitude, polish and commitment you need.
For more on this topic check out the video “The #1 Mark of a Loser.”