I write a lot about mindset, and I write even more about winning. As a result, one thing about both has become incredibly clear to me: too many of us grossly overcomplicate things.

There was loads of proof this past week on the road and the weekend spent at my teenage son’s state soccer championship playoffs.  Don’t stop reading, though; the lessons I am about to discuss are equally applicable to business.

To keep this post as simple as possible, you aren’t winning because of two things. 1. You are afraid to win and do the things you talk about. 2. You can’t say no.

Let’s dive into it.

1: Talk is cheap.  It’s easier to talk about everything you will do – or, in many cases, HAVE DONE than it is to actually perform.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to your friends TALK about how they will go to the gym, make sales, get out of debt, or start living healthier in general.  Listen to them tell you how they will win sales, get new clients, create better products, start their own business, and more.

We’ve created a culture in which talk is accepted instead of performance.

Here are a couple of examples:

No one cares that you were a Green Beret, SEAL, Raider, Ranger, etc. until you can show them how that brings value to them. Not only do they not care, but they also have no idea of what that means (minus the token/automatic “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE” response to you).

No one cares that you were a former professional indoor soccer player until you show them you can win tournaments.

In essence, no one cares what you have done, they care much more about what you CAN do. Remember this: actions speak louder than words.

2: You can’t say no, and you definitely can’t make hard choices that will displease people.

As my son’s team won their games but came in second in the tournament through goal differential, I got in some trouble with the other parents.

Some background: These other parents had spent the entire morning of the last day gossiping amongst themselves about how the tournament was in the bag and that we were a lock to win. Their sons approached the game with the same lackadaisical attitude.

But what got me in trouble is this: when they were all wondering what went wrong and why their sons were upset, I said in my dryly sarcastic way, “Well. At least everyone got equal playing time, right?”  When they looked at me askance, I reminded them they’d all spent the last three days telling each other that if we came in first place, we skipped regionals and went straight to the national tournament.  To do that, we needed to score goals.  But the coach subbed off the goal scorers when we went up in the final game early in the second half.

He did that to make everyone happy, and as a result, he made everyone miserable.

We lost first place through the coach’s desire to appease the moms and dads.  Period.

Here’s a reminder: It’s easier to say you are elite than to prove it. Being elite takes sacrifice and discipline.

But don’t overcomplicate it. If you are in a position to know what “right looks like,” stand by your gut.  

Winning isn’t a popularity contest. Elite teams are elite because they have standards. The Kansas City Chiefs don’t allow just anyone to play on their Super Bowl-winning team.

When I say we don’t need mountains, I mean we don’t need to overcomplicate what we already know. We do, however, need some hills.

Selection of talent is critical.  As is the maintenance of standards.  And the ability to communicate (which is often very difficult).  These are the HILLS you need to survive, though.

And like any hill, the more you get used to climbing it, the easier it becomes and the better you can enjoy the view from the top.