Warning: Ignoring wins will bog you down

This week Mike Edwards joins us from his blog with a post about wins.

Over the past couple weeks I have found myself to be in a rut. Almost a bad mood of sorts. Given all the work I’ve done in the past year to improve myself this was getting under my skin. How could this be happening again?!

As a result I was experiencing several things I hadn’t experienced for a very long time. I was struggling to focus on creative activities such as writing, I haven’t wanted to talk with people, I have several conference papers which will soon be over due, and I just generally had this terrible feeling of being stuck.

At it’s most extreme I was wondering if I was making a mistake pursuing the Co-Active Coach Certification right now. I even thought about withdrawing until I felt more ready for this next challenge. I’m not sure what I didn’t feel ready for, but it seemed like it might be the right move for now.

How to dig a big hole

Yesterday I came to realize where I believe I’m out of alignment. I think it started a month ago when I went away on course. Given how intensive the course was I chose to ignore other work for the week. When I returned I became sick with something flu like. For almost a week my illness made it difficult to focus on my work, and feel motivated to do anything except sleep (which I don’t think I did enough of).  When I started to become healthy again there were several things which had become bigger problems for me.

In my efforts to get through those and try to honour those commitments I lost sight of something very important. I failed to acknowledge and declare my wins. When I failed to declare my wins in the past few weeks I started to dig myself a hole. I became fixated on the things I wish were different. The more I fixated on these things, the more I became obsessed with trying to change them. The more I tried to change them the deeper I dug the hole I was standing in. Eventually I reached a point where I felt like I was standing in a deep hole and the bottom was covered in deep sticky mud.

Think of it this way; when a child brings home a report card with A’s and B’s, along with one D …. which mark do you think many parents focus on?

There are so many things I have missed declaring as wins for myself. I had a wonderful Easter week-end with my family. I completed my 100 coaching session challenge by the end of March (final count … 103!).  I have continued to share my thoughts weekly through this blog post. I have helped numerous people every week through my coaching work, resulting in numerous breakthroughs for them. I have returned to running outside now that the weather is warming up in Canada.

There is so much I have accomplished. There are also lots of challenges and no shortage of work in front of me. However, I know as I do this work there will be many more wins along the way. Perhaps it’s time to start a win-wall in my office (seriously … time for more Post-itsTM on the wall!)

What it means to declare a win

Since the start of my involvement with The Leadership Gift ProgramTM I’ve learned about the importance of declaring my wins. A win is an intention met. In other words, you intended to do something and you did it. They come in all shapes and sizes ranging from small and seemingly trivial, all the way up to mega wins that took weeks or months to complete. For me size doesn’t matter when it comes to declaring wins.

This might feel a little odd to be declaring your own wins. Especially for us humble Canadian’s. The problem is we often equate it to bragging. However, there’s an important distinction between declaring wins and bragging. The difference is in the intent behind your declaration. If you intend to share for the purpose of putting yourself above someone else then yes that is bragging.

In my experience when bragging is allowed into the team environment it starts to encourage the emergence of a hero culture. When you have a hero culture you start to break down the ability for the team to innovate and improve (but that’s another story).

Declaring a win is an acknowledgement of an intention met. Simply put it’s sharing you intended to do something and you did it. I find it’s even better when you can share this win, or join in when someone else is declaring their wins.

I encourage you to declare your wins as well. Acknowledge the things you had intended to do and succeeded at today. I know there’s several things you intend to do today, so when you complete them simply stop and say to yourself “a win!”

Make it part of your team meetings

I find teams regularly getting bogged down in what isn’t happening. Much like my own story above they start digging a hole and eventually are on a death march trying to get out of the mud.

I encourage you to bring this into your team environment.  At the start of your team meetings set aside a little time to allow them to declare their wins. Personally I wouldn’t limit it to just team work. If someone declares a win from outside of work it’s obviously important to them.

Does this work?

Put simply — Yes.

On Monday before I figured out what was happening I truly felt like I was stuck in the mud. Moving my feet felt like a huge chore and almost futile. Now that I’ve started declaring my wins again to myself, I feel a great degree of freedom (this is why the image on this post grabbed me).

I feel as if everything is possible again, and am approaching my work with renewed enthusiasm!


Mike - HeadshotMike is a member of The Leadership Gift Program and professional coach working with people and teams as they design an effective work & personal life. In his 27 year career Mike has held many positions in IT & business across numerous industry sectors. He has led many great teams and always tried to inspire them to be their best. Five years ago Mike altered his career path and started to increasingly take a coaching stance to feed a passion to help others increase their effectiveness.

Mike is a founding board member of Leanintuit, a team of Agile Coaches helping to improve our world. Mike is studying to become a Co-Active Coach with CTI Coaching Institute. Mike speaks and teaches many times each year at conferences and other professional events internationally. Mike shares his thoughts regularly through his blog and enjoys hearing of others experiences.


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Posted in Responsibility on 04/13/2015 01:12 am
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