19 May 2016


by Andy Weddington
Thursday, 19 May 2016

Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. Vince Lombardi

Since last commentary, published Monday past, that mentioned Mr. Obama's remarks to the Rutgers University graduates, I've thought a bit more about the role of a commencement speaker.

First, Mr. Obama's recent appearance. The best summation that comes to mind for his approach is that of Tex sitting around the campfire home on the range and uttering a discouraging word. Good grief. President of the United States? Nearly eight years on the job and if charting tenure there's a classic line of regression. So it is. Losing is a habit. A bad habit. 

Now, about the keynote address in general. Seems to me, graduates, if not remembering the speaker, should leave with something memorable and something useful (which, if remembered, will likely trigger memory of the speaker). 

Thinking back on my few commencements, I do not recall any speaker nor any takeaway. Though no doubt there were fitting and inspiring words, that seems to me fault of the speaker. 

It's doubtful I'll ever be invited to deliver commencement remarks.  Who cares what a Marine who knows a little bit about a few mostly arty (and that's not as in artillery) things has to say. And that's okay. 

This year two nieces are amongst the thousands of college graduates. For advice they've not asked (though we sent them a card and a few dollars mad money). But I have thought about that advice. So, for those two young women and all graduates a brief message.

Here goes...

Americans win! 

Winning is life in America. That's just the way it is. 

It matters not whether competing for grades in school; awards in sports; customers or salaries or bonuses in the workforce; or campaigning for elected office (party notwithstanding). Americans compete to win.

It's our culture. 

Win and success follows. 

How do you win?

The formula is known but a reminder is in order. 

Keep it simple. 

Remember the acronym: WIN! 

W - Work. Hard. Smart. Whether the task is big or small, best effort always. Do not confuse effort with results. Example, out front, is the most powerful means of leadership when it comes to work. 

I - Integrity. Safeguard to death. Compromise and you will not win. In fact, you'll pay. Do not tolerate others who breach. 

N - Nonstop. Persevere. Endure. Do not quit. Never quit.

In short, WIN! is character. 

Legendary UCLA Bruins basketball coach John Wooden said, "Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character."

He should know, his teams won ten national championships in twelve years and seven were consecutive. 

So, in closing...

Though luck has little to do with success, I will indeed wish you good luck - for with the more rigorous application of WIN! the luckier you will be. 

That's all there is to it.

Encouraging (not discouraging) words.

WIN(ning) is contagious. Make it habit. 

Forward, March!

1 comment:

Jim said...

Good words Andy. May i be so bold as to add a few of my own learned the hard way over years of leading Marines. Thank you.

"Always do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it."

From a golf pro of years past, who's name escapes me at the moment (age). He won the Masters and did so by making a few great shots, several holes in one as best I can remember. The interviewer made a comment about his "lucky shots." He replied, "Yes you are correct it was luck, but you know something? I have found over the years that the more I practice, the luckier I get."