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MCLELLAN: How winning works


I know a lot of tough people, but Robyn Benincasa has to be one of the toughest.

She’s a member of the only all-female firefighting crew in the country, and when she’s not saving people’s lives, she is a world-champion adventure racer, a Guinness world-record kayaker. Oh yeah, and she started a nonprofit called Project Athena, which helps women who have survived a medical challenge such as cancer by taking them on a dream adventure (like climbing a mountain) as part of their recovery.

Robyn is a remarkable human being. She’s also an incredible leader and knows how to win – and what is worth fighting for. So I was thrilled that she captured her expertise in a book that outlines how each of us can climb to new levels of professional and personal success. In her book, “How Winning Works,” she shares the eight essential elements of teamwork that she believes are responsible for her own successful and fulfilling life.

Here are Robyn’s eight elements of winning and teamwork:

Total commitment: There are four P’s of commitment – preparation, planning, purpose and perseverance.

Empathy and awareness: Do you care about your teammates as much as you care about yourself? Can you truly put yourself in other people’s shoes so you know what they need from you?

Adversity management: Something is going to go wrong. That’s a given. Winning at business and in life is really recognizing that the road ahead is filled with problems to solve and is never going to be the easy straightaway you’d hoped for.

Mutual respect: On any winning team, there’s a high level of mutual trust, respect and loyalty. You have to be able to recognize what each person contributes and celebrate that at the same time you’re minimizing the elements you aren’t crazy about.

“We” thinking: You have to constantly be looking for ways to utilize your collective resources for the best possible outcome. This is about finishing strong as a team – not racing across the finish line first and then waiting for your teammates.

Ownership of the project: For a person or a team to be successful, you need to be able to absolutely immerse yourself in the mission. You need to see the goals as your goals, see the outcome as your responsibility and attach a significant amount of emotion to accomplishing that desired outcome.

Relinquishment of ego: All successful people realize they come equipped with both strengths and weaknesses. You need to be able to recognize your strengths so you can offer those to the effort, but you also need to know your weaknesses so you can expose them to your team – so they can help overcome them.

Kinetic leadership: Leadership, on the best teams, revolves among the teammates. That requires that everyone on the team can both step up to the role but even more important, step away from the role when he or she is not the one best suited to lead at that given moment.

What I loved about this book is that it goes beyond listing the eight elements. Robyn tells amazing, impossible-to-forget stories, offers pragmatic exercises and what she calls synergy starters – ways to actually put it into practice.

If you’ve already achieved success and want to make sure that you, your family and your co-workers experience even more, or if you’re just starting out, grab this book and enjoy your adventure with Robyn.

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