The Culture of Winning and Losing

March 20, 2017

“One of the most basic factors in sports is that winning becomes a habit and losing is the same way. When failure starts to feel normal in your life or your work or even your darkest vices, you won’t have to go looking for trouble, because trouble will find you. Count on it” Hunter S. Thompson

There is winning culture and losing culture with most franchises constantly trying to build something and not really getting anywhere. Not to pick on the Cleveland Browns but the consistency they display for losing and starting over is impressive. How many quarterbacks have to roll through that town before they finally nail it? It is very apparent that the NFL is all about the quarterback. You can win in some cases with a stout defense but in the end, year after year, solid quarterback play is the ticket to winning.

When you see the New England Patriots win year after year and find themselves in the playoffs you have to think that it’s more than just Tom Brady pulling out miracles. Many football fans are tired of the New England Patriots story and the constant reminders of their greatness, sometimes controversial and sometimes melodramatic. And dammit when is Tom Brady going to retire? Wouldn’t every team want that problem? They win and win and our teams don’t most of the time.

In today’s professional sports world, it is about the deep pockets and the fleeting chance to land a couple of blue-chip players. In the NFL it’s the quarterback and wide receivers, in MLB it’s pitching, and NBA it’s having too really good players to build around.   In other team sports it is also about having a good core of players, but your superstar is not necessarily the most important position on the team. The next level down is your healthy guys that produce with average statistics. You also throw in a few “glue guys, character guys and old pros and you have the typical make up of a winning team on the court, rink and field.

Professional sports have become increasingly win first, ask questions later.   Teams often overlook flaws in players, coaches, management as long as they can deliver a winner.   The organizations that avoid scandals are often the same ones that win more. The culture of winning consistently will often have unique and groundbreaking ways of setting up a culture. The days of Vince Lombardi running a team with tough discipline and my way or the highway leadership are gone. Coaching is more about building trust and teambuilding and less authoritarian.

A winning culture is cultivated over years. The franchises may not always win and get to into a playoff situation but will always have the attitude that next year will be their year. They have built a foundation of well-run farm systems, practice squads and year-round training facilities. If you are not doing this and doing it well, your organization cannot keep up. The stakes are high and teams will look under every rock, worldwide to find the best athletes.   Professional sports franchise are going international and going to recruit poor kids into their dream.

The majority of us doesn’t or hasn’t played at the professional level but still know what a winning and losing culture feels like. Either it is sports or at a company it’s all the same. When companies are mostly bottom line motivated you know that is a losing mentality. If a company gets to a point where the slowdown of dollars coming in take away from innovation and the ability to reinvent then they are doomed. Employee become expendable and are no longer considered assets, turnover sets in and the culture suffers. There is always hope in Cleveland for their Browns but until they get a change in philosophy and culture established, their seasons will be long and fruitless.