The Mental Edge That Separates Life’s Biggest Winners from Everyone Else

Arnold PalmerWe become what we focus on and if there’s a certain mentality that separates the most successful coach, athlete, or business leader from all the rest, it’s the extreme desire to be the best at what they do. They hate to come up short. They hate to get beat by someone else.

Adopting this winner’s mindset gives you a distinct advantage over your competition because, as strange as it may sound, most people don’t have that deep desire to be the very best. They’re content with being average.

Arnold Palmer, one of history’s greatest golfers, most definitely had a winner’s mindset. He felt that his mental approach to the game of golf was one of the things that separated him from his competition…


From the moment I turned professional, I suppose you could say that my goal was to win golf tournaments. That sounds like an obvious statement, but bear with me because the concept is somewhat novel given today’s environment. I’m talking about a mindset here.

In those early days the first thing that I thought about was winning tournaments and nothing else. I didn’t think about being in contention or getting in the top 10. I didn’t care if I was inexperienced or out of my element from time to time.

My whole philosophy was based on winning, not finishing a careful fifth. And I didn’t care what tournament I was playing in. I played to win no matter what.

For a lot of players, golf is a way of making a living. For me, golf always has been a way of being alive. And nothing compared to the feeling of going for a victory.

I never felt like I had to win at all costs, but I went all out.


— Arnold Palmer, from his book A Life Well Played

The above statement may seem obvious at first glance. After all, everybody wants to win, right?

The truth is, most people don’t have this deep desire to be the best at whatever they’re doing. They think winning would be nice, but ultimately they’re just happy to be invited to play. Arnold Palmer noticed this. He saw many players on the PGA Tour who were just happy to be there. They were glad to have the opportunity to play golf for a living and they were simply hoping to hold on to that opportunity.

Arnold Palmer wasn’t interested in just hanging on to his Tour card. He wasn’t looking to qualify, he wasn’t looking to crack the top 10; he was looking to WIN. He didn’t want to prove he belonged; he wanted to prove he was THE BEST!

This difference in mindset is prevalent everywhere, not just in sports. Think of all the people who seem content with just doing the bare minimum to keep their job.

Life’s biggest winners are those who truly want to be the best. They want to be the best golfer, the best salesman, the best parent. Whatever they’re doing, they’re striving to be the very best at it.

Are you striving to be the very best in your profession? If you’re not, you’re going to be defeated by someone who is.

And if you’re not enthusiastic enough about your chosen profession to want to be the best at it, then perhaps it’s time to find a profession where you will have this desire.

Having a winner’s mindset is essential to success. Striving to be the best is the mark of a champion. Don’t settle for being average and don’t ever apologize for wanting to win, for setting big goals, and for wanting to be the best of the best.