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3 Strategies Champions Use to Win the Fourth Quarter

During a year that has been loaded with fear, insecurity and scarcity-based thinking, champion leaders have a choice to make: Play hungry or play scared.

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We have a choice: Play to win or accept things as they are.

Now, knowing how an elite group of leaders like you think, accepting things as they are just is not a proper solution to overcoming any levels of adversity. So, we must play to win.

During a year that has been loaded with fear, insecurity and scarcity-based thinking, you, the leader, have another choice to make: Play hungry or play scared.

Once again, making the first choice of playing hungry would suit a leader well. So, that is what you must do. You must play to win and play hungry.

How do you do that? In my years working with championship level teams with the New York Yankees, the teams that went on to win were the teams that were built to come from behind. It was often seen that throughout the season, the teams that were able to stack up the come-from-behind wins were often the teams that went on to win championships. 

It was never too late in the game to win.”

There was something special about the makeup of the players on these teams, as well as the unwavering belief that these players had as it related to winning. No deficit was too large. It was never too late in the game to win. These great players and teams would always rally and come back to win no matter what. Mostly, because they believed they could.

Fourth-quarter winning is the most important type of winning because it shows you can win when it counts. Oftentimes, it has been shown that many rise to the pressure of a clear deadline, a winding down clock and a set goal and target that defines winning. 

Many do their best work when it is all on the line, like in the final weeks of the fourth quarter. We have seen it in football, the dramatic fourth-quarter wins and heroics led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. We have seen it on Sunday as many PGA tournaments wrap up. Fourth-quarter heroics show who the real players and champions are.

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Grit is an important trait of winners. It always helps to take your mindset back to those days when you had to scrap, claw and dig for every inch of success you achieved. Like the great Al Pacino referenced in the Oliver Stone movie Any Given Sunday, we always need to fight for that inch. And fight for that inch is what you are going to do.

Two great, family-owned New York companies, Arkay Packaging and Central Turf and Irrigation Supply, led by second- and third-generation CEOs, are committed to not only winning 2020, but making it their best year yet. 

Coaching these companies, I quickly came to realize it is the relentless pursuit of excellence that their leadership is after that allows them to work through difficulty, find stability in unstable situations and immediately focus on the end goal: winning. They are after that inch. 

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What happens in the fourth quarter to these types of winning players, teams and organizations?

Their focus gets sharper.

Their intensity elevates.

Their demand for personal and team excellence rises.

They play offense.

They are on the attack and moving ferociously toward their goals.

How do great leaders step-up? When those around you (family, friends, board members, executive team) are questioning their own sense of security, you—the leader, the captain of the team—already see victory. You embrace the adversity. Running toward it rather than away from it. Those around you begin to follow your lead.

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As a champion leader, your natural instincts, work ethic and abundance mindset set you in motion toward making the first year of this new decade an amazing one. 

When everybody is having doubts, you have no doubt that you will be victorious.

Here are three sure-fire ways to dial yourself in to win the fourth quarter.

Train Your Body Daily

The most important and precious resource any leader can possess is their energy. Competition takes energy. Winning takes energy. You must break a sweat everyday to gain your competitive edge and keep you in peak shape/condition. Miss zero days training, “breaking a sweat” as you sprint hard through the fourth quarter of the game.

Elevate Your Thinking

As Kanye West puts it, “Ain’t nothing on the news but the blues.” Very true. So, if you are going to keep yourself mentally fit, you must fill your mental airwaves with positives. Self-coaching is a great way to do this. Catch your negative, defensive, scarcity-based thinking, and shut it down immediately by replacing it with an empowering, can-do thought. Use “I am” statements to get you there. I am a great leader. I am a winner. I am a fourth-quarter leader. This may seem simple, but you will realize how negative your thinking might actually be and how your negative energy translates into a contracted way of thinking and living.

Demand Excellence From Those Around You

Life is a team sport. Business is a team sport. It is your job as a leader to preserve your own energy and self by demanding that those around you elevate their game. Elevate their thoughts, their attitudes and their expectations of themselves. If they can not hang, set them free. As a leader, you have no time for low-frequency thinking. Abundance thinking only. No loser talk allowed. You feed off of energy; make sure those around you keep theirs high.

By doing these things, you will be in peak shape and condition to go after those “inches.” After all, every inch counts. As a leader, you must wake up everyday in pursuit of those magical inches. Let’s go. You got this. Stay hungry. Play to win.

Coach Dana Cavalea is a high performance & executive leadership coach. He is the former director of performance for the New York Yankees. Coach Dana led the New York Yankees to a World Championship in 2009. You can visit his official website at danacavalea.com.

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