In my last year of teaching, a group of students severely tested me. I felt like I was battling them with everything I did, and I dreaded each time I had to see them. My therapist suggested I look for a win or something positive with that group each time we met. So, after each lesson, I diligently wrote down something that went well. By the end of the year, those students told me I was their favorite teacher, made gifts for me, and somehow found my phone number and are still calling and texting me.
The power of focusing on your wins cannot be overstated, and it will help bring even more wins to your business.
The Power of Small Success: Focusing on wins means celebrating small successes in your business journey. This practice can lead to increased optimism, better financial health, and healthier habits.
Process Over Outcome: Shifting your focus to the process, rather than solely on outcomes, empowers you to take control of the actions and daily habits that lead to success. Small wins along the way boost confidence and resilience.
Team Engagement and Innovation: Celebrating the wins of your team members fosters motivation, innovation, and a strong company culture. It's a powerful strategy to increase engagement and drive your mission and values.
What do I mean by focusing on wins?
We have heard this term thrown around a lot, but what do we mean by it? A win is any small success. You could also expand it to gratitude practice or looking for delights, but in the business context, we call these positive outcomes wins. For example, some wins I celebrated in my first year of business:
creating a web page
registering an LLC
creating a lead magnet with all the links and forms
creating SEO-friendly posts
Blogging every week
getting a LinkedIn Account
Posting regularly on LinkedIn
Attending networking events
Getting a paid client
How does focusing on wins help with business goal-setting?
Our survival instincts are to focus on the negative. We must remember that alligators are in the pond, so we shouldn’t go wading or swimming in them (I live in Florida, so this is a real threat to my safety). However good it is to remember the negative so we can stay safe, we are also creating pathways for certain ways of thinking. I can develop superhighways in my brain for negatives like, ‘nobody signed up for my course,’ and then continue to notice everything else going ‘wrong’ in my business.
Focusing on wins helps us become more optimistic
However, if I work to develop pathways of noticing positive events, my thinking becomes more positive and can bring more success to me. Noticing the positive helps us become more optimistic, and optimistic people are more successful at reaching their goals than pessimistic ones.
optimists were significantly more likely to experience better financial health than pessimists, and engage in healthier habits with their money
(“The Financial Upside of Being an Optimist”)
Focusing on wins helps you progress with business goal-setting
The other advantage of focusing on wins is that it helps us focus on the process rather than the product. Often, in business goal-setting, we focus on the outcomes, but the most successful achievers focus on the daily actions they need to take to accomplish their objectives. For example, if I want 1,000 subscribers on my email list, I can’t really control how many people subscribe to my email list. I can control the quality of my lead magnets, my presence on social media and at live events, how I interact with people, and a myriad of daily habits.
With my students, I often had them do goal setting, and they always want to set the goal of ‘getting an A,’ but that is an outcome they can’t guarantee. What they can control is writing down their assignments, planning time to study, quizzing themselves, asking questions, etc.
When we focus on small wins each day, we notice the small accomplishments we make and the actions we are taking that are moving us toward our goals. We gain confidence as we see that we have control over our actions. That confidence enables us to respond to challenges and setbacks because we know there are actions we can take. We are more likely to achieve the desired outcomes when we focus on the process that can get us there, and we are more likely to maintain habits of effective processes when we celebrate our steps along the way as wins.
Celebrating your team’s wins increases engagement and innovation
If you take time to celebrate the wins of other people on your team, they will feel seen and acknowledged. Knowing that you notice the good things they are doing (even if you lost a big account) will motivate them to work harder. They will feel emboldened to try more and find more solutions. When the wins you acknowledge are tied to your mission and values, you will reinforce your company culture each time you acknowledge someone. Acknowledging the wins of your people is one of the most powerful moves you can make to increase engagement.
How can I harness the benefit of focusing on wins?
Create rituals of reflection. Establish a pattern of daily, weekly, monthly and annual reflection, which includes recording your wins. You can use a journal or your calendar. Try also my free tracker so you can see all your wins for the month.
Celebrate Progress, Not Just End Results: Don't wait for big milestones to celebrate. Acknowledge and appreciate the progress you make each day, no matter how incremental.
Reward Yourself: Attach small rewards to your wins, even if they are symbolic. Treating yourself after achieving a goal can boost motivation.
Acknowledge others. Establish a routine of acknowledging another person’s wins each week.
Track your wins. Keep a spreadsheet or use your project management. Refer back to it any time you face a setback. They can help you record and visualize your wins over time.
Download my free WWW tracker to record “what went well? Why?” to help set up your habit of looking for wins and develop more positive habits that lead to success.
“The Financial Upside of Being an Optimist.” Harvard Business Review, 12 Mar. 2019, hbr.org/2019/03/the-financial-upside-of-being-an-optimist. Accessed 10 Oct. 2023.
OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (September 25 Version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com