What Goal Gives You “Fire in the Belly” to Win?

by Lee Ellis

Life itself is a fight at virtually every turn. To win in sports, theWinning leadership strategies athlete must fight against the limitations of the body and the efforts of the competition. To win the new job, the candidate must fight for the interview and for the offer. To win at home, the spouse or parent must fight against the natural human traits of selfishness and pride. Even to win at a simple game of chess or bridge or golf, the player must fight with tenacious concentration.

Nothing worthwhile in life comes easily. Some days you will feel good, and some days you won’t. But regardless of feelings and circumstances, you must make up your mind to persevere. If you want to be victorious, you must decide in advance to fight to win. That’s what the senior leaders in the POW camps did. They went first, and they set the bar very high.

The battles in your organization are probably less intense than those that took place in the POW camps, but they can be daunting nevertheless. If you’re a business leader, for example, you must constantly fight to increase revenues, develop new products, attract new employees, complete projects on time, promote teamwork, ensure quality, confront employees who are under performing, and achieve a host of other important goals. In fact, you must in a very real sense fight for the survival of your organization every day. What’s more, you must continually fight to uphold your personal and professional commitments and values, in spite of fears, doubts, and temptations to compromise. That requires the same kind of tenacity POW leaders exhibited.

Fire in the Belly As a kid, we used to play pickup games of basketball and touch football. The two best players would take turns choosing the players they wanted on their team. The smart leaders didn’t always select the players with the most natural talent. They picked the ones who had the greatest desire to win, who had what we call “fire in their belly.” So it is with life. Talent, education, charisma, and good looks will only get you so far. To win in life, you must want to win and you must fight to win.

Find Your Drive for Success  In the business context, highly motivated leaders are said to have “drive,” or perhaps a “pioneering spirit.” They are willing and even eager to step out into uncharted territories, launch new initiatives, take on the most challenging tasks, and pursue lofty goals. They get things done.

But, too much of a good thing can be counterproductive. When all of these traits are in play without an awareness and concern for the capabilities and needs of others, watch out! A “driven” leader who is inordinately focused on results can push others into “burnout” rather quickly. That’s not healthy for the organization or for the individuals involved.

What are you fighting to win in the new year, either personally of professionally? Is it worth the effort, and what inspires you to press forward with enthusiasm? Share your thoughts and wisdom here.


Lee EllisFREE OFFER – Do you find yourself challenged by the importance of balancing getting results vs. nurturing relationships? Read Lee’s case study entitled Results vs. Relationships: Finding Your Balance on the Leadership Seesaw. Click here to download your free copy.

This entry was posted in HR, leadershipskills, management, motivation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.