What’s Important Now? (also known as WIN!)

Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.

– Tony Robbins

I love listening to motivational speakers for inspiration. A few of my favorites are Brené Brown, Byron Katie, Dalai Lama, Siri Lindley, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins and Marianne Williamson. If you’re looking for fresh wisdom, I would recommend each one of them.

Recently I came across another one—American football coach-turned motivational speaker Lou Holtz. He surprised me with his simple yet powerful insight. If you’re not familiar with him, Holtz is one of the most successful coaches in the history of U.S. college football and has inspired countless young athletes since launching his career in the late 1960s.

His message centers on the notion that to achieve greatness, you need look no further than the present moment because that is where you’ll find your ultimate power. To remind his players of this truth, Holtz created a simple question that he calls “WIN:” What’s Important Now?

The great coach understood that we achieve our goals one step and one choice at a time. So, he instructed his student athletes to ask themselves “What’s Important Now?” at least 35 times a day.

In other words, “What can I do right now, in this moment, to take myself one step closer to being a champion?” For Holtz’s players, the answer at first thing in the morning would probably be, “Eat a nourishing breakfast.” A few minutes later the answer might be, “Study my playbook.”

After that, “Hit the gym and do my toughest workout.” Later, “Pay attention in class so I can get good grades and keep my scholarship.” Later still, “Take the time to lace up my cleats properly so I don’t get blisters on my feet.”

This continues throughout the day, until the young man’s entire day has been spent taking one small and important step after another towards greatness. How simple and elegant is that?

Asking myself “What’s Important Now?” keeps me grounded in the present moment and helps me avoid rehashing past mistakes or worrying about a future I can’t control. It also helps me prioritize tasks when I’ve got a million things on my plate and keeps me from getting bogged down in “wishful thinking mode.”

Have you ever wanted something very badly—say, to lose weight, or take up painting or writing, or buy a new house, or exit an unhealthy relationship—yet you could never get beyond the point of dreaming about it? It’s nice to have those kinds of visions for the future. But lying awake at night fantasizing about being a size six or winning the Nobel Prize in Literature is fruitless because you’re focusing your attention on an outcome, not on the steps you need to take each hour of each day in order to achieve it.

Answering Holtz’s WIN question keeps your focus and concentration on the action steps you can take right now, in the present moment … which is really the only thing you can control.

Now that you have this tool at your disposal, you can start using it today. If it seems overwhelming, then perhaps you need a coach of your own. As a veteran of using this system, I can run you through a few drills. Let’s set up a practice time and get this ball rolling!

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