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"If you keep resetting your goals and you keep hitting them, then eventually you will reach the top."
Winning Words by Chris Hoy
Chris Hoy
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Yehuda Shinar - Winning Detective
Yehuda Shinar has the secret to winning, and he is willing to share

‘Find me a winner!’  The boss bellows.  ‘Find me someone who will deliver the goods.’

Words to this effect are repeated bosses in board rooms and coaches in changing rooms across the country.  Why?  Because a wise man, in whom Scotland has placed much faith, once said: “The more winners you have in your team, the more chance you have of being a winning team.”  This may seem blindingly obvious, but the pursuit of a winner is often a blind quest. 

Sometimes winners just appear on your doorstep.  Take Manchester United’s team of the 1990s, of Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and Neville vintage; they appeared out of nowhere.  They were youth players, nobodies.  And subsequently nobody was ready for them. Ten years on and, for the most part, they are still winning games for United.  Other times you must actively go out and find winners for yourself, often paying over the odds for them, and often failing, as many Old Firm followers will testify.  The mind boggles to imagine how often a despairing manager has thought: ‘If only there were a formula that could guarantee you always found the right person…’

Hark back to the wise man in the opening question.  Believe it or not, he has that elusive formula.  His name is Yehuda Shinar, and he is the guru behind several sporting successes in recent years, most notably England’s World Cup winning rugby team in 2003, and more recently, Scotland’s record breaking Commonwealth Games team of 2006 (29 medals, 11 golds).  He defines winners as ‘deliverers’, and he will find, or create, the people you want for the job.  (Buy his book from Amazon - see link below)


 Yuda’, as he prefers to be called, hails from Israel.  And having been made famous by his influence in a series of monumental events, and in some cases minor miracles, one might conjure an image of a mystical counsellor of wisdom from a bygone era.  But Yuda is very here and now.  In fact, with regards to Scotland, he is right here, right now, and enjoying a Scottish breakfast with the In The Winning Zone team at the Norton Hotel in Edinburgh. 

The director of his own company, ‘Winning Enterprise’, Yuda undertook an 18 year study in order to discover the psychological make-up of a winner.  A one-time graphologist, studying handwriting to identify personality traits, he trawled through a database of 4,500 people to find his formula.

“I cut it [the database] up into three parts: ‘The deliverers’, ‘the mediocre’ and the ‘poor deliverers’,” Yuda stated.  He continued:  “I had thousands of people from any profession you could care to think of, so I could sit there in front of winners and learn about them.  There were two parts to each person’s entry in the database: Our initial prediction for them, and the retrospective feedback from the client.  So now what I had to do was to search for whatever qualities and attributes that only the people from group A, the deliverers, shared.  You will never find those qualities or traits amongst the people in the other groups, no matter how much you play devil’s advocate.”

So what is that elusive number one trait or quality?  It is unlikely you’ll guess.  Most likely it is not the same one discovered by Yuda, as he proceeded to eliminate the obvious choices:  “All of a sudden it became very clear that first and foremost there was no correlation whatsoever between how talented or intelligent the person may be, and whether they belong to the deliverer group or not.  You could find highly talented and intelligent people all over the three groups.” 

Still guessing?  Talent and high IQ are probably two of the most obvious choices.  What else is there?  Determination?  Motivation?  Not quite, at least according to Yuda: 
“The number one rule for winners is that they avoid getting themselves stuck in unnecessary corners.  Their decision-making process leads them to the point that when it is not necessary to be under pressure, then they won’t be.  If you put a winner under pressure and say: ‘Tell me yes or no’, he will answer when it suits him.  If there is an obvious corner they don’t want to be in, then they won’t be there.”

Yuda then cited the example of an individual who is one of the most natural winners, and deliverers, in the history of sport:

“When you watch Zinedine Zidane in a one-on-one situation with the ball at his feet, he prefers not to be there!  If you try to tackle him, often he just turns and shows his back to you!   Thus minimising the pressure!  He won’t put himself under pressure with dribbling unless he has to.  It takes him half a second and then his decision making process is easier.” 

Many remember Zidane as a maestro of ball trickery, but his mesmerising skill only compounded the fact that he was primarily an incredibly difficult player to defend against.  Watch any match in which Zidane played, be it for Juventus, Real Madrid or France, and you will see what Yuda was talking about.  The shimmies, the swerve of his hips, the spinning and wheeling of himself around the ball; it is all to avoid direct confrontation.  Ultimately, the opposition want the ball, and if his body is blocking it, then they can’t have it.  He uses the most obvious tool available to him on the pitch; himself.

But why do such people want to be without pressure?  Doesn’t that defeat the point of being a winner, and defy the traits of bravery and intent?

“They want to succeed,” argues Yuda: “They are dedicated to the achievement.  So anything that can threaten that accomplishment they will try to avoid.  You may think this is like running away, but these [people] are the clever ones.  If you can, avoid it.  But, if not, go at it 100%!  Why make a decision that could impact negatively on the quality of what you are doing?”

Sir Clive Woodward first brought Yuda into the limelight in 2000, where he used his database to create a computer programme with which Woodward’s England rugby players could hone their skills and attitude.  Sir Clive was astounded by the depth and precision of Yuda’s knowledge:

“I found his insights stimulating, his conclusions amazing.  His winning behaviours covered areas like identifying opportunities, decisiveness, time management, momentum, self-control and one-on-one situations.  It was one of the most remarkable assessments of the competitive situation I’d ever heard.”  [Sir Clive Woodward in his autobiography Winning]

The benefits of Yuda’s influence on English rugby were harvested in the most rewarding way - The World Cup. 

As mentioned in Sir Clive’s excerpt, Yuda identified many winning traits. But his wisdom doesn’t stop there.  His research may have taken him nearly 20 years to complete, but it is of little use if it can’t be applied.  Many people know what it takes to lose weight and get fit, but knowledge alone is insufficient.  It must be acted upon, and translated into action.  And in order to become a ‘deliverer’, Yuda stipulates that you must possess the ‘Warrior Spirit’ to jump start your pursuit of glory.

“A warrior doesn’t need you to tell him to give 100%.  Warriors are never satisfied.  They are the kind of people that when they finish a game where they did well, five minutes later they will be sitting down thinking: ‘What could I have done better?’  They are always improving.”

There are some born warriors, and there are others who simply don’t want to be warriors, but most of us are in the middle, waiting for someone like Yuda to inspire us: “The idea is to create a person.  Sometimes people lack the belief that they can become winners, but you can teach them.  If you show them that they can do it, and if they start to achieve, it builds up self-confidence and self-belief.”

Never giving up until the whistle is blown is another key element to his thinking.  In 2005, Yuda assisted Mark Hughes with the Blackburn Rovers Youth Academy football team.  Having helped take them to a cup final, it looked as if Yuda’s psychology had failed when they most needed it, finding themselves 3-1 down with full time looming.  Yuda tells the rest:
“The Academy Manager said to me: ‘Yehuda, we made it to the well, but once again we didn’t manage to drink from it.’  I asked him why he said that and he replied: ‘We lost.’  I said to him the game is not over, that I didn’t hear the whistle.  Five minutes of injury time came up on the board, we scored three goals and we won the cup.

But the beauty here is not the three goals, as Yuda explained:  “When you heard the boys shouting on the pitch, you knew they were going to make it.  All of a sudden they started using the vocabulary of winning, and when people use the same language, they act the same too.  When you are under pressure there is always more time than you feel.  We heard the captain shouting: ‘Guys, we have more time than you think!’ and all of a sudden they started to perform.”  They were warriors. 


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