Beyond winning: Three life lessons from a short chat with Jim McGuinness

The Donegal man talks leadership and more with Bobby Kerr

BY Joseph Conroy 12:02 Saturday 12 March 2016, 12:02 12 Mar 2016

INPHO/Morgan Treacy

All Ireland winning player and coach Jim McGuinness joined Down to Business this week to discuss the processes involved in building success, in sport and beyond.

After failed attempts to take charge of the Donegal senior team he got the job in 2010 and set about trying to change the mentality in the dressing room.

1. Forget about winning

"I do want to win obviously but I have to say this - when I was growing up and when I was playing football and playing for my club and for my county and not winning I was a very bad loser," Mr McGuinness told Bobby Kerr.

"Through the process of coaching, I actually became a good loser ... I came to the realisation that it's not actually about winning and it's not about losing it's about giving your absolute best. If you go out onto a pitch ... and give it your absolute best - I've said this hundreds of times to the Donegal team - once you've given everything there's nothing else to give, that's a very good place to be."

Even if this effort doesn't measure up, if you commit to the effort the Glasgow Celtic coach says that you can get to a place where it's not longer about winning:

"If you're a top team and you're winning easily, there's no wild joy in that. It's about striving and the challenge. It's about putting yourself physically and mentally at the highest possible level and the feeling that you get from that supercedes even winning."

2. Gain trust through hard work

Speaking to Newstalk at the Annual Hotels Federation Conference, Mr McGuinness added that the keys to success are commitment and preparation and that there is a level of hard work that you can put in which breeds a healthy confidence and allows you to bring people with you.

He says that putting in the necessary preparation brings you to a point where you can "talk with conviction" rather than "talking in generalisations."

At that point you can tell those around you that "this is what we want to do - this is what this is about" and then you can work on making "that vision a reality."

3. Bring people with you

"The last piece of the jigsaw is encouragement," he concludes, adding:

"If you're prepared and encouraging the people on your team to continue to strive and to continue to move forward, and to continue to be the best that they can be, and acknowledge the work that they're doing."

That creates a "positive self-confidence - not a cocky self-confidence," which is built on a sense of "knowing that we're doing the right thing."


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