Urban Meyer on What Makes the Difference Between Winning & Losing

Urban MeyerUrban Meyer believes that the difference between winning and losing isn’t as complicated as people might think.

On any given Saturday, any number of variables will factor into a game’s outcome, but Coach Meyer believes there is one variable that is more important than all the rest. There is one variable that accounts for the single biggest difference between winning and losing…


In our world, at the end of the day it is pretty simple: either you worked harder than your opponents or you got outworked. The challenge is to build a culture—a competitive environment—where everyone gives relentless effort every day. A culture everyone wants but few get.

At Ohio State, we have made relentless effort part of our DNA, and here is why: great effort can overcome poor execution, but great execution cannot overcome poor effort. Toughness and effort are the foundation of our success.

I place a premium on relentless effort because in all my years of coaching, I’ve never been in a football game where the team that played the hardest didn’t win.

One of the ways we accomplish this is by embracing what we call the grind.

We believe that being elite is not about how talented you are. It is about how tough you are.

To achieve anything great in life, you have to fight for it. Every day.

The grind is mental and physical. In fact, it is more mental than physical. Physical ability is important, but it will only take you so far.

You won’t achieve excellence until you train your mind to take you there.

So we use the grind to train the mind. First you win the battle in your mind. Next you win the battle in practice. Then (and only then) you win the battle in the game.

The principle of relentless effort applies to everyone, not just college football players.

Here’s the not-so-hidden secret for achieving extraordinary success: clarify what you really want, then work as hard as you can for as long as it takes.

Toughness can achieve things that talent by itself can never accomplish.


— Urban Meyer, from his book (with Wayne Coffey) Above the Line

Though we live in a world where everyone is always looking for the latest life hack, the fastest shortcut, or the quick fix to a problem, the difference between success and failure—more often than not—comes down to good old fashioned hard work.

Whoever works the hardest tends to win. Period.

When Urban Meyer says that effort and toughness is more important than talent and that the team that plays the hardest wins, it’s important to also note that this commitment to effort isn’t a one-day deal. It’s about embracing the grind each and every day.

Anyone can give maximum effort for a day or two here and there, but the best give that effort day in and day out. That’s what Urban Meyer means by relentless effort. It’s the type of effort that never stops.

That’s what ultimately makes the difference between success and failure: giving more effort than your competition every single day.

Will there be short-term luck involved that may give others a head start or a fluke victory here and there? Sure. But in the long run, those lucky flukes will be exposed.

In the end, victory belongs to those who work the hardest and the longest.

Regardless of what field you compete in, those that rise to the top will be those that work harder than their competition each day. What can you do today to outwork your competition?