But I was recently reminded of my high school swimming days and felt compelled to re-read the title essay from Dr. Keith F. Bell‘s book on swimming psychology: Winning Isn’t Normal. It was worth ordering the book again, just for that essay, although the rest of the book carries every bit as much impact. I 100% guarantee relevance for writers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, etc and have excerpted the essay from the book, with the kind permission of the author:*
“Winning isn’t normal. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with winning. It just isn’t the norm. It is highly unusual.
Every race only has one winner. No matter how many people are entered (not to mention all those who tried and failed to make the cuts), only one person (or one relay) wins each event.
Winning is unusual. And as such, it requires unusual action.
In order to win, you must do extraordinary things. You can’t just be one of the crowd. The crowd doesn’t win. You have to be willing to stand out and act differently.
Your actions need to reflect unusual values and priorities. You have to value success more than others do. You have to want it more. (Now take note! Wanting it more is a decision you make and act upon — not some inherent quality or burning inner drive or inspiration!) And you have to make that value a priority.
You can’t train like everyone else. You have to train more and train better.
You can’t talk like everyone else. You can’t think like everyone else. You can’t be too willing to join the crowd, to do what is expected, to act in a socially accepted manner, to do what’s “in.” You need to be willing to stand out in the crowd and consistently take exceptional action. If you want to win, you need to accept the risks and perhaps the loneliness… because winning isn’t normal!”
P.S. I think this applies to copywriting without any special effort made to “translate” it, but this Monday Morning Memo from Roy Williams certainly takes the subject of this essay in a more writing/messaging-specific direction.
* As you might imagine, this is an extremely popular essay and so has been frequently excerpted and posted on the web without permission from the author and even without proper attribution. If you’d like to use this essay or pass it on, please contact the author to arrange for permission.