The Only Way to Win – Jim Loehr [Book Summary]

by Nick

Have you ever wondered whether it is possible in the present world to remain an honest person (or company) – and still succeed?

If other athletes take steroids and you don’t, will a good team come out of you?

If you are telling the truth and your competitors are lying, should you leave the business?

With many years of experience working with dozens of the greatest athletes and company executives, Jim Loehr states that true success builds on achievements based on moral values.

He claims that no matter how huge your gains are, if you got them dishonestly – or honest, but at the same time you chose superficial goals – consider that you lost.

The author persistently and even somewhat annoyingly convinces you to figure out which principles are dear to you and build your life on their basis.

This book is available as:

 eBook | Print

Victory at Any Cost?

Imagine that since you were two years old, you have lived only in tennis.

You were self-centered and suspicious, but as a result of continuous training, by the age of 16, you became a professional.

You were a merciless rival and did not have much respect for either other athletes or sports traditions. Over the next decade, you have set a number of new records, won three Grand Slam, became the first racket of the world and won the Olympic gold medal.

“Most of us, all our lives, are guided by success criteria that … really don’t matter to us.”

Well, and what do you feel now?

Andre Agassi achieved all this by the age of 26 but experienced only deep disappointment and emotional emptiness. He explains his addiction to drugs, his constant lies, and a failed marriage, to the absence of higher meaning in his activities.

It turns out that even if you managed to surpass all your rivals, only rewards – wealth, fame, and power – will not satisfy your most basic needs. Fortunately, Agassi had the courage to start all over again.

Hardly becoming the next hero of a banal story about a celebrity – a victim of self-destruction, he managed to redraw the plot.

In 1998, he began at a breakneck pace to restore lost ground; in 1999, he again became the first racket of the world and, before retiring from sports in 2006, he won five more Grand Slams. Agassi managed to surpass his own achievements when he decided to abandon his former desire for victory at all costs.

Kingdom of Deception

The pursuit of achievement for the sake of the opinions of others can hardly be condemned, even if rigid attitudes are used.

However, in such situations, despite external successes, people tend to lose internally. Even more dangerous is the general tendency to lie, to cheat, to harm oneself or others in order to gain an advantage over rivals.

“Moral values form the fundamental foundation of what a full, healthy human being is. And if this is true, then business leaders should … inculcate in their subordinates. ”

Every two years, researchers interrogate about 200 athletes, offering them a “golden dilemma”: if they could, without any risk of exposure, accept a “magic pill”, which is forbidden by law, which guarantees high sports results, but threatens with death within five years, would they accept it or not?

It’s hard to believe, but more than half of the athletes say they would accept.

“Our ability to ask“ why ”is a true masterpiece of evolution, allowing us to give meaning to our aspirations.”

Research results show that most sports, especially team sports, negatively affect a person’s moral character and character.

The all-consuming desire for victory, as well as the manner that is widespread in the sports environment, to behave on the field in one way, and completely different outside it, promotes a tolerant attitude towards deception and even deliberate injury to players of an alien team.

“The blind desire for achievements of an external nature, even if it was crowned with success, evokes a feeling of deep emptiness in any person.”

Of course, cheating does not exist only in sports.

About a third of American high school students admitted that they use Internet resources for plagiarism. 80% of high school students and students, in their own words, do not disdain to cheat.

High school students are preoccupied with that. to get to a good university, and students to graduate school or to work.

“By winning thanks to their character traits, leaders not only lay the foundations of a leadership tradition, but also gain a sustainable sense of satisfaction and self-fulfillment.”

After graduating, young people find themselves in circumstances where the pressure is even stronger – in the office.

Business generously rewards high results, but what funds are used?

Everyone knows how often these days top managers resort to fraud, bribery, and falsification of documents.

Moral Values

With all the character flaws, Agassi was a highly skilled athlete.

However, he could not achieve much success, relying only on his professionalism.

For Agassi – and for the self-realization that he craved – fraud and doping were not needed, but a personality transformation was absolutely necessary.

“If the goal is only to win, to achieve, then fraud is permissible. And even necessary. And in general for granted. If the main thing is victory, then everything can be sold, even the soul: the only question is price. ”

Your abilities and skills are genetically determined to some extent.

Nevertheless, in order to succeed, they have to be polished for a long time and carefully.

Most of your “external” goals, including career growth and financial well-being, are achieved partly due to innate traits – perseverance, courage, determination, zeal, high IQ.

But if your abilities are not backed up by moral merits, you will only think about the results and nothing more. Having no other meaning in your activity, apart from counting victories, you will always be unhappy – like Agassi.

Meaning arises when there is an internal moral compass.

“A lot of people are ready to give up life’s joys for a while – to postpone them until success is achieved … However, there is no such finish line, overcoming which we would understand that the race has finally ended and now we can start a happy life.”

As Agassi himself explains, his rebirth happened only when he admitted to himself that he hated tennis, since all his victims were made in the name of other people’s goals.

Realizing that compassion, spiritual generosity and modesty for him mean much more than victory in tennis matches, he made sense.

Thanks to this, having returned after his breakdown, he achieved even more than before, both on the court and outside it. Now Andre Agassi believes that he owes his prosperity to moral attitudes.

He still seeks to achieve results – in order to temper his character and earn money to achieve his cherished goals. Among them is a tennis school where children can receive professional and at the same time affordable training.

Meaning First

If you believe the philosophers, a meaningful, full-fledged existence requires a high goal.

Suppose you want to become a wealthy well-known company leader.

Or even a rich, famous, kind and generous company leader.

  • And why do you actually want to become one?
  • Do you know what worthy business to use your influence and money on?

If you find your highest goal, you will be able to determine moral attitudes that convey meaning to all your accomplishments.

In the absence of such a goal, most people feel that their success is meaningless and not satisfying. To avoid this fate, refer to the “theory of self-determination”. It distinguishes three components of a full-fledged internal motivation and work on personal qualities:

  1. Autonomy. You yourself choose where to work, how to live and what to strive for.
  2. Craftsmanship. Having decided what to do, you, of course, try to do it well. Mastering, training and applying the knowledge and skills necessary to realize your aspirations will bring you great joy.
  3. Meaningfulness. You connect your aspirations with some meaningful goal.

Work on Personal Qualities

When you reach a goal and define your value system, you will need a tool to measure your progress in developing character strengths.

Most people focus on the social criteria of achievement that are visible to everyone, that is, on the final results, while forgetting about the means. It is unlikely that you really value social status and material wealth higher than health, good family relationships, and good deeds.

“By losing the present, we lose both our whole life and our feelings of joy.”

Create a short description of your life goal, which can be used as a measure for any action that you intend to commit. Then, based on this description, make a list of values and character traits that, in your opinion, are most important for achieving this goal. Evaluate yourself for each of these parameters and continue to do this regularly as your strengths develop.

“If you play sports to improve as a person, you are a winner” (Dan Jensen, skater, Olympic champion).

The desire to improve your human qualities does not at all mean that you must leave everything and leave for the desert. Victories will be given to you in a different way, but the desire for “external” achievements, which in the real world are never given without labor and overcoming obstacles, is necessary to develop a system of values and character education.

“Having acquired – or rather chosen – your goal, you become a blacksmith of your own happiness.”

Go ahead and continue to evaluate your results. Do not be afraid of the actions of other players, not as important as you. If you have a goal, if you are happy, passionate and motivated, then you are a strong opponent, like Agassi.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Each day will bring you new opportunities to educate your character. Over time, repetitive actions develop into a habit. Here are some reliable ways to do this:

  1. Exercise. Consciously exercise those character traits that you decide to develop in yourself. For example, be patient and compassionate. Your efforts to develop your own capabilities will affect others.
  2. Speak. Talk to others about the character traits that you admire, point to specific examples, and openly praise people who possess these traits.
  3. Write. Be sure to include a description of your purpose and the most important values on paper. Express gratitude to those people who help you on your life journey. Written thoughts accelerate the process of change.
  4. Read. Look for books and articles that talk about your values. Novels about people who have shown courage, stories about honesty in difficult life situations, will be good support to you.
  5. Listen to other people’s stories. Nothing will inspire you in difficult times better than a real story about the strength of character and loyalty to principles.
  6. Discuss situations of moral choice. Think and discuss with other situations in which you need to make a decision based on moral choice. This can be done alone: write on paper the circumstances and options for possible action.
  7. Play. Role-playing games are an effective learning tool. Play with employees or children situations where everyone would portray one of the character traits.
  8. Take action. Engage in volunteer activities, do spontaneous good deeds, tell others about your gratitude – so you show the very features that you strive for.

Contagion by Self-improvement of Employees

Those who want to purposefully develop strengths of character can help parents, teachers, coaches, and employers.

To implement in your organization a program to solve this problem, use the following 12 steps:

  1. State the mission of the company. This wording will help you explain the goals of the organization to the team. Tell employees about how the company’s activities are built on fundamental values and principles.
  2. Discuss the company mission. Relate the goals of the organization to the values of subordinates and their strengths. Create hypothetical situations that require ethical choices and bring them up for discussion.
  3. Ask employees to formulate their life goals. Let them think about their life and list those values and character traits that they consider particularly important.
  4. Analyze all the wording with the team. Establish a connection between the goals of team members and the objectives of the company.
  5. Let people talk about their best. Ask employees to write in 10 minutes about what they are like in their best minutes and how it positively affects others.
  6. Ask workers to create personal scorecards. Let employees draw up their personal assessment cards based on their stories, choosing six character traits that each of them would like to work on first.
  7. Assign subordinates to keep a personal journal. Let them bring everything related to the development of values and necessary character traits there. How often do they express gratitude to their colleagues, treat someone kindly or admit that the laurels they got are the merit of the whole team?
  8. Encourage employee interest in feedback from others. In order to truly grow, they must receive feedback from different people about how they are developing the process of developing moral qualities.
  9. Encourage people to think through scripts of important conversations in advance. If they write down what they want to say, this will help them to show the best character traits and act according to their values.
  10. Demonstrate responsibility for fulfilling your obligations. You are a model for the team, so do not let your actions diverge from your main goal and organizational values.
  11. Recognize achievements. Praise employees whose actions contribute to the fulfillment of the corporate mission and are consistent with their personal life goals.
  12. Dismiss those who will not grow. Find the courage to fire those whose commitment to ethics or corporate mission is in doubt.


  • The society adopted the point of view: “You are your achievements.”
  • Success is judged by external signs, such as money and power, and not by what kind of person has done good deeds, how nobly he acted, or how stubbornly he followed his principles.
  • When the goal of victories is only to gain “points” that have weight in society, they will bring nothing but disappointment and emptiness.
  • The pursuit of goals determined by popular culture, rather than personal moral attitudes, will not satisfy your most important spiritual needs.
  • To fill your existence with meaning and realize your potential, always act on the basis of fundamental values.
  • Components of internal motivation: autonomy, skill, meaningfulness.
  • In many situations – from the school bench to the executive chair – lying becomes the norm. The sharper the eternal question is whether the end justifies the means.
  • Character is manifested in the way you uphold your principles in the face of difficulties.
  • The pursuit of achievement, which is always associated with overcoming obstacles, will help you in finding the desired qualities of character.
  • Discuss moral values with employees and encourage them to self-develop. Link personal values with the mission of the company.

Why You Should Read “The Only Way to Win “

  • To make sense of your work
  • To embed a sustainable culture in your company
  • To raise solid principles in your children.

This book is available as:

 eBook | Print