Life's Hurdles are Golden Opportunities to Feel the Thrill of Victory

By Greg Smith, Sr., The Strength Coach

"People just don't understand how obsessed I am with winning."  — Kobe Bryant

"I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win."  — Michael Jordan

"There may be people that have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do."  — Derek Jeter

"Never die easy. Why run out of bounds and die easy? Make that linebacker pay. It carries into all facets of your life. It's okay to lose, to die, but don't die without trying, without giving it your best."  — Walter Payton

Fostering the Competitive Drive

Eight years before my birth, my father was throwing touchdown passes at Alexander High School in Brookhaven, Mississippi and then at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi. When I was a baby, he was coaching championship high school teams to record winning streaks and players to National Football League careers from Biloxi and Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Kobe Bryant and Greg Smith

There are genes for athleticism. I inherited those genes. Because of that fact, I consider myself an athlete whose destiny was changed by other genes... the genes led to a body with muscular dystrophy.

I don't believe there is a gene for competitive spirit. I think that characteristic is teachable and learnable. I believe loving to win and hating to lose are the keys to success.

Every day, I face situations that I turn into "games" in my mind. These are usually physical situations created by the weakness in my muscles. Instead of lifting something with muscle, I need to be able to figure out a way to move it using leverage, balance and momentum. When I encounter a situation like that, I interpret it as a challenge. I analyze the situation and based on time constraints and my energy level, I will either decide to accept the challenge or get help. If I accept the challenge, I am usually determined and relentless. And I usually win.

Kobe Bryant and Greg Smith

When I win, I celebrate! I bask in the spirit of victory. I enjoy it to the point where I look for the next challenge to overcome so I can enjoy that tremendous feeling again! I invite you to try it. Get into "game-time" mode the next time you face a difficult situation. When you win, celebrate!

About the author:

Greg Smith is a professional speaker, broadcaster and author known as "The Strength Coach." He is the founder of "On A Roll: Talk Radio on Life & Disability," a nationally syndicated radio show that aired on 70 stations from 1992-2006. He is subject and associate producer of the PBS documentary "On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream," which reached 1 million Americans in 2005. He is also the author of "On A Roll: Reflections from America's Wheelchair Dude with the Winning Attitude." For more on Greg Smith, Sr., visit

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