I’m very fortunate as a motivated motivational speaker to meet a huge variety of people from business, sporting and educational worlds. Many have risen to the top. Many are what I would consider out and out winners. I’ve had time to reflect chief characteristics that these winners have in common. I believe there are definitely key traits that existed in these individuals’ and key patterns of behavior that allowed them to achieve greatness.

Desire to learn

Each morning I wake I spend time reading. Currently, I am reading Marcus Aurelius “Reflections of a stoic” and I have just finished reading “No limits” the Phelps story. Books give us the ability to learn new ideas and concepts are almost limitless. We simply have to endeavor to read, study and learn each day. It’s commonly accepted wisdom that by going to the gym you work your muscles, you tear the sinews and they repair. Similarly, for intelligence and intellect development we need to train our brain too. The more information we learn, the greater the capacity we have to adapt to new situations and learn new concepts. Regardless of what level of mastery you have arrived or achieved in your particular profession, the best people I believe certainly continue and learn continue to search out new ways of improving or changing.


The winners that I’ve been lucky enough to work with such as Leinster rugby or the Waterford senior hurling team all take immediate action. Procrastination is not part of their vocabulary, whether it’s a diet program and exercise program or it’s a skill development or whatever area of expertise they are working on. They have the ability to take action that certainly makes them stand out from the average player or average team.


The winners in business and the winners in the sport, constantly put 100% of their effort into their endeavors. Regardless of their mood, regardless of the situation, they control the controllable and one of those is their own attitude which ensures that they will put maximum effort into whatever task that is put in front of them. For the real winner going through the motions and pretending is simply not an option because they know the inevitable result would be disappointment and failure at not achieving their goal. Their mantra would appear to be similar to Nike – just do it. Not next week, not next month but today take action. Don’t put things off.

Goal setting

Winning teams and individuals are experts at goal setting. They have the ability to dream and to set outrageous goals, but they also have the ability to connect these into multiple small steps where smaller goals will allow them to achieve that dream. These goals are time-specific; these goals attach huge importance to planning and organisation. The goals that they set are enunciated on social media, to their coaches, to their families and to their friends. This communication and honesty about what they want to achieve almost forces an associated set of actions and consequences. If you like it’s a bit similar to the snowball on the top of the hill once the momentum is applied the single action can accumulate great reactions.


I’m sure so many people reading this article have great goals, targets, dreams or aspirations. Discipline is the ability to overcome the doubts, fears, loss of energy days, weeks, months or even years later after we have begun the initial journey. I can remember training for the Ironman and while visiting relations in the Midlands on a cold winter’s day in the pouring rain and very dark and cold, beginning a 6-hour cycle back to where we lived on my own. As I cycled away from my in-law’s house, I could hear the laughter through the window and could see the warmth of family and food. The discipline needed that day to complete the training session I believe was crucial to me completing an Ironman in a personal best time later that year. If you practice speaking French, you will probably become fluent in French. If you practice putting things off and procrastinating, you will probably become an expert at that. Champions practice the art of discipline until it is part of their very essence.

Female Weight Lifter

Positivity and enthusiasm

I’m sure everyone has heard of” If you think you can”. There’s an energy to come from laughter and positivity. This energy allows many people to become champions in their chosen field. Positivity and enthusiasm recharges us and allow us to continue to get through the difficult times in achieving our goals. Negativity and a negative mindset simply add sand and glue to the cogs and wheels of endeavor and guarantees that they will come to a grinding halt.


Winners practice winning by focusing on their strengths. Focusing on our negatives and the need to improve our weaknesses is crucial. However, our natural talents and abilities that we’re good at should direct us towards our particular goals. Winners that I have worked with take their natural talents and abilities, things that they’re good at and fine-tune them and improve them to the point that they become outrageously good. For them being good is a foundation, being excellent is the norm.


The power to visualize is augmented so significantly by the verbalization of one’s goal. Announcing your vision. Your target friends, family, coworkers or teammates place a direct pressure on you to respond with actions that will result in this goal being achieved.

Mental rehearsal

Winners practice with mental rehearsals.  The art of closing your eyes and seeing the actions that you wish to take part in seeing them successfully come to fruition repeatedly creates pathways in our neurons and mind that almost seems to bring our dreams into reality. When I trained to carry a washing machine to the summit of Kilimanjaro I frequently imagined myself sitting with the washing machine and a Tricolor on top of that great mountain. I particularly like moments of weakness in the gym or on training sessions where my brain was telling my body it was time to stop and I could not tolerate any more pain. I bypassed the pain of doubt and self-pity by strongly visualizing the end result which I wanted to make happen. The power to obsess, visualize, imagine and bring it to reality your goal will distinguish you as a winner from losers.


I’ve worked with so many teams and so many businesses and successful CEO’s of major international companies. My work as a keynote speaker and motivational speaker has brought me to many countries and provided me with many opportunities. Winners will most certainly encounter disappointment, failure, and bad luck. Nobody I have met is an instant success and overnight success. They have all encountered negative experiences. I have noticed however that they focus their energies on solutions to their problems and improvements. They do not engage in Finger-pointing or blaming. They are convinced that they are masters of their own future and destiny and that their actions, their plans, their goals and their dreams are the key to success.

Washing Machine Walk by Enda O Doherty

The grind

It does not matter what coach you have, what your goals and dreams are, what your physical attributes are. If you are not prepared to work. The ability to grind out session after session plan after plan. The ability to deal with failure, learn and move forward. The ability to increase your workload past the point that you think you cannot cope with. The ability to work when everyone else is taking time off is what makes winners win. I think it was Gary Player the golfer who responded to someone who said you’re very lucky after he chipped into a hole with the wonderful answer” The more I practice the luckier I get”. We all need inspiration most certainly to get started. We need the dedication to continue but it’s very hard to be a winner if you don’t invest perspiration. Sheer bloody-minded effort will get you a very long way.

The ability to improve

In my experience as a motivational speaker, I often speak about resilience and dealing with crisis and overcoming mishaps in life challenges. When things go wrong in life it is a certainty that we would all deal with this. Champions however not only deal with adversity and difficult situations, but they learn to improve and change. The magic in a winner is that ability to constantly improve and constantly move ahead. They look for the edge, they look for the margin, the smallest percentage improvement is sufficient if stacked together back to back with other improvements. Working with sporting teams for me was a great joy as my roller responsibility was to track down the smallest change, the smallest improvement that we could add together to guarantee success.

Thanks for reading this article. I hope you really enjoyed it. Remember the winner is an extraordinary person who just decided to do the extra every day.

Enda O Doherty

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