What It Takes To Be A Winner – Part 5

In The Winners Manual, written by coach Jim Tressel during his tenure as head coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes, he has identified ten fundamentals essential for winners. Applying these fundamentals can put us on track to becoming a winner no matter what we do in life and no matter what life throws our way.

This week we’ll briefly review the next fundamental and the resources coach Tressel has used to shape his character as well as his coaching staff and most importantly, his players.


Whenever you start—give it your best. The opportunities are there to be anything you want to be. But wanting to be someone isn’t enough; dreaming about it isn’t enough; thinking about it isn’t enough. You’ve got to study for it, work for it, fight for it with all your heart and soul, because nobody is going to hand it to you. – General Colin Powell

Success doesn’t come to you . . . you go to it. – Marva Collins

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – Colossians 3:23

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over it you just sit there. – Will Rogers

Coach Tressel reminds us, “It’s important to understand that work is not who you are; it’s what you do. Many people get that backwards and think their lives are defined by what they accomplish or by what position they hold . . . No matter what endeavor you pursue in life, if you want to succeed, you’re going to have to work at it.

Some guys with a lot of natural talent come into our program at Ohio State and are blown away by the amount of study football takes. These are guys who were always the best players in youth football and in high school, and some have leaned on their talent to make up for any deficiencies in their fundamentals or work ethic. At the collegiate level, and certainly at the professional level, you can’t get away with that. It takes a lot of work, a lot of conditioning, lots of repetitions each day, and then building on the knowledge you’ve gained until you get to a certain level of proficiency. And after you get to that point, it takes even more work to stay there.”

Whether in sports or in a work environment, the wisdom above applies equally as well. It takes hard work and “continuous improvement” to stay on top of our game!

Coaches and players can say anything they want, but if they don’t back it up with performance and hard work, the talking doesn’t mean a thing. – Michael Jordan

Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it. – Stephen King

Success is the intersection where dreams and hard work meet. – Jim Tressel

Whatever you do, don’t do it halfway. – Bob Beamon

Coach Tressel shares the following story told to the players “the night before the most challenging day of preseason: the running test.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning, the lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running!”

Coach T. also says, “On the journey to success, after we’ve made all our preparations—the goals and blueprints and dreams—the next step is to work toward those goals. To do that, we need two qualities that are vital to our work: persistence and toughness.”


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent (all powerful). – Calvin Coolidge

Passion makes every detail important. – G. K. Chesterton

Coach T. reminds us that, “Persistence is a quality possessed by people who want to achieve. If they have a passionate desire to succeed, the goal becomes much more important than the obstacles thrown in their way. They realize that a single event, failure, or circumstance does not define them.”

Whatever you do, do it passionately. Failure is an event, not a person. Every obstacle presents an opportunity . . . IF you’re looking for it. Relax! You only fail when you quit. – Jim Tressel

One man with courage makes a majority. – Andrew Jackson

You never plow a field by turning it over in your mind. – Irish Proverb


Everyone has a plan until they are hit. – Evander Holyfield

Coach T. believes, “True toughness comes from courageous actions and applies to every aspect of the game of life. We have to be tough enough to make good decisions—decisions we know are right, even in situations where the right thing may not be the most popular choice. This type of toughness may very well be the hardest thing for young athletes today.”

I would add that the “type of toughness” coach Tressel is referring to above may very well be the hardest kind of toughness for any person to practice these days, young or old. A wrong five-second decision can lead to a lifetime of regrets!

Coach T. goes on to say, “Often, the most difficult challenges in life are situations that we can’t explain. When life really punches you in the gut, you find out how much toughness and courage you truly possess.”

Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison

I’ll continue to mention each week that The Winners Manual is an excellent book to recommend to your children and grandchildren whether they are active in sports or not. This book is filled with a lot of great life lessons and wisdom you can pass on to those you love and care about!

See you next week for more Wisdom Matters from coach Jim Tressel.

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