How to Win. Every Time.

Michael B. Musgrove
3 min readJan 31, 2021

I fear nothing. There’s nothing I’m afraid of.∗ I have some worries, but worries can be fixed with time and smarts. That allows me to approach danger bravely and retreat wisely when necessary to return when I’m able to eliminate the danger. And then move forward as planned. There will always be obstacles. If you attain a goal in life without overcoming obstacles, then you’ve had everything given to you and all you’ve gained is largely meaningless.

For some people, they hold up those moments as evidence of achievement, but in reality, they are still standing in the same spot they always were and have attained nothing of real value.

For someone who fears nothing and is forever reaching further ahead, there’s no stopping someone like that is there? Time will have to tell. It may delay the goal and intended achievement, but sometimes the journey is part of all of that goal. There are certainly lessons learned along the way that must come from the experience. It reminds me of the wise saying I often recall on the Harry Barbee mural at Woodberry Forest that says “Effort in sport is a matter of character than reward. It’s an end in itself and not a means to an end.” It’s true. It goes along with a lesson I’m forever trying to imbue to my daughter which is to always turn in your best work. That’s what people will remember you for, which is not only the final submission but the effort you made to make it so. Being a quitter and turning in something half-assed doesn’t impress anyone. Everybody can do that. Do your best work and don’t just complete the job, but delight the person you’re submitting it to and you’ll always have accomplished something. No matter how small or large. And large jobs are just usually a bunch of smaller jobs. Do them all as best as you can.

The “trick” I’ve learned over lo, these many years, to do a spectacular job is twofold.

Most of the quality you get from your effort is a product of the preparation you put into it before doing the actual project or event. A good job requires a LOT of behind the scenes, not-fun prep work that no one usually sees. That goes for anything in life. Ask anyone who is a consistent winner in life. You have to get up at 3 am to bake the best biscuits. You have to run stairs in the dark and be in the gym when everyone else has gone home to make touchdowns. Ask the guys at Alabama.

Do the prep work. Measure twice, cut once. Use the right, and best if possible, tools. A lot of times that is what we have before us like our hands and brain.

To do the prep work, you must allow yourself the time for it. This is where many people falter as well. Procrastination, or the misjudgment of how much time is needed to prepare adequately. Doing a rushed, half-assed job of preparation will lead to inferior output. Every time. That’s common sense.

The last part of the equation is after finishing, put the bow on it. Don’t just hand it in as-is. Put the cherry on top. It’s called fit and finishes. It’s what separates the great from the absolute best. Think of what else can be done to delight the user/recipient/person/client/whoever? It doesn’t have to be much to set you apart at this altitude. What you present to people is a reflection of who you are, so why not make it something memorable and the highest quality, if that’s how you want to be perceived?

That’s how winning works.

∗ People who know me will say “Untrue! You’re afraid of spiders!” But the fact is, I’m not afraid of spiders. They just give me the willies. Along with some type of long spidery-crawly-thing in Kentucky that has hundreds of legs which I’d never seen before moving up here. Satan having a nightmare while on acid couldn’t dream up anything more disturbing than these bugs.

Originally published at on January 31, 2021.



Michael B. Musgrove

Featured in HBR (Oct. 11), MBA, published author and marketing professor. To start with.