Applying Extreme Practices Leads to Extreme Winning

Natalie Merrill
March 23, 2016

Individuals involved in professional sports know what it takes to win and what it feels like to lose. But you don’t have to be an athlete to apply practical winning strategies to your life and your career.

At 1st Global’s 2015 National Conference, “Success by Design,” Pat Williams, motivational speaker, basketball Hall of Famer and senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, drew on his knowledge and experience of management in the NBA to provide audience members with the key components to creating a winning mindset. He said that, in observing those athletes he refers to as “extreme winners,” he has learned there are 12 qualities these individuals apply in their lives and take to extreme levels. Williams believes these attributes are important for all people — not just professional athletes — to have because, as he put it, “at the end of the day, we’re all in the winning business.”

Williams ensured conference attendees that the following 12 extreme winning qualities are guaranteed to produce results in the lives of those who choose to put them into practice.

Extreme Dream — At some point in life, an extreme winner is captured by an extreme dream, whether that be to become a doctor and save lives, play sports at the highest level, or help others prepare for their futures and achieve their financial goals. But, in order for that extreme dream to come true, one must work toward it.

“Dreams, as great as they are and as important as they are, can vanish,” Williams said. “They can disappear into the atmosphere unless we do something about them. And that something is action. At some point, you have to stop starting up the steps and start stepping up the stairs.”

Extreme Preparation — Williams is inspired by Coach John Wooden’s favorite motto, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” He reminds people as often as he can that confidence and success come from preparation, and extreme winners don’t leave their outcomes to chance; rather, they prepare.

Extreme Focus — Williams reminded his audience members that, while it’s important for people to learn from the past, the past should be more of a springboard than a hammock. With the uncertainty of what’s to come tomorrow (or if there will even be a tomorrow), the only thing one should focus on is today — and that focus should be unflinching.

“Extreme winners are like horses at the Kentucky Derby,” Williams said. “They’ve got blinders on, blocking out all of the distractions, and they are absolutely locked in.”

Extreme Passion — In order to be successful, one must love what he or she does. Whether it’s lacing up shoes for at least 82 nights of the NBA season or meeting with clients on a daily basis to help guide them in their decisions, passion must be present. Williams said there must be enjoyment alongside those things that a person is good at in life, because all people have the intrinsic desire to have fun.

“When your greatest talent intersects with your greatest passion, you have discovered your sweet spot in life,” he said.

Extreme Work — Williams noted that the successful athletes he’s encountered in his career, including Michael Jordan, weren’t successful simply because of their levels of talent — they worked harder than others to reach their goals.

“Extreme winners understand the two most important words in the English language are what else,” he said. “What else can I do? What else can I offer? What else can I contribute? That’s their mindset in every situation.”

Extreme Responsibility — In today’s society, people often try to deflect their responsibilities onto others, especially in instances in which the end results were not the desired ones. Williams, however, said it’s important to take ownership of your work, regardless of the outcome.

Extreme Positive Attitude — There are an array of things in life that are completely out of one’s control. However, one thing that every person is capable of having power over is his or her attitude. Williams said that when he realized this truth, it created a freedom in his life that has improved his quality of living. He is able to choose his own attitude each day, and he advised his audience to pick a good one because “it makes all of the difference in the world.”

Extreme Goal Setting — The most well-achieved people Williams has encountered have all been diligent in adamantly seeking specific goals. He advises writing goals down and constantly reviewing and revising them along the way. Setting goals takes self-discipline, and Williams said this discipline will help in making those goals realities, especially long-term goals, which are critical in the goal-setting arena.

“When we stop setting long-term goals, that’s when the dying process begins,” Williams said.

Extreme Perseverance — Citing examples of George Washington, Walt Disney and Brian Piccolo, Williams reminded his audience members how critical it is for individuals to keep trying, particularly when situations in life feel more difficult than anything they’ve ever faced. It’s those tough trials that set winners apart from others.

Extreme Competition — Competition can be scary and intimidating, but Williams said there is really only one thing to do with it: welcome it. After all, it’s the opposition people face in life that makes them better.

“It’s the competition that pulls out of us that which we should be doing, anyway,” Williams said. “But we don’t do it until the competition makes us do it.”

Extreme Desire — Paralleling with passion, there must be an inherent want to achieve one’s goals. Williams reminded conference attendees that the extreme winners are the ones who care more, hustle more and “grind it out more,” especially in the most challenging times.

Extreme Teamwork — Williams said even the greatest athletes don’t truly reach their full potentials until they realize they can’t do everything on their own. Winning is a collective task. He cited the example of the Chicago Bulls not being able to become a championship dynasty until Michael Jordan started incorporating his teammates more into the offense and letting them feel more involved and included.

“Extreme dreams,” Williams reiterated, “really do depend on extreme teams.”

For more information on Pat Williams and his variety of speaking topics, you can visit his website


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