When I was coaching, I used the term “W.I.N.” with my teams. It stands for “what’s important now?” Here’s what it means.
In sports, as in life, we can only control what we can control.
Basketball players can’t control a ref’s calls. But they can control how they react to bad calls. A player can’t control (or change) the fact that he just made a bad play. But he can control how he approaches the next play. A player can’t control whether a teammate works hard in drills. But she can control her own effort.
What’s Important Now is controlling whatever you can control . . . right now. In basketball, that means, playing the next play without worrying about the last or looking forward to one later in the game.
Bad call goes against you? Yelling at the ref is not what’s important now. What’s important now? The next play. Make a bad turnover? Hanging your head is not what’s important now. What’s important now? Sprinting back on defense to stop the opponent who stole your pass.
You get the picture.
- “Few people are powerful enough, persuasive, persistent, consistent, and charismatic enough to change the world all at once, but everyone has the ability to affect the three feet around them by behaving more ethically, honestly, and compassionately toward those they meet.”
It reminded me of W.I.N? None of us can control how others act or treat us. But every single one of us can control our response to how others act and treat us. And isn’t that almost always what’s important now?
As I thought about it, I thought back to my post President’s Day & Civility. It’s a post in which I referred to Linda Klein’s President’s Message in the February edition of the ABA Journal: One Word: Civility. Please read it.
President Klein wrote:
- “As leaders in society, lawyers must ensure that civility once again becomes a quality that defines us. We need to set the tone for constructive communication and rational decision-making. It starts with us and every individual committing to a more civil manner, insisting that civility be a part of meetings and interactions. Indeed, we need to hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard.”
What’s Important Now? That in the next interaction I have with someone, I’m going to commit to a civil, honest, respectful communication – – regardless of how that person treats me. I can’t control how that person acts, but I can control how I act.
Opposing counsel acts like a jerk on the phone, sends a rude e-mail, or says bad things about you in court? You can’t control that. But you can absolutely control how you respond.
Finally, I’m especially struck by the fact that I’m writing this as I proctor the bar exam. Civility is as important a skill as is a basic knowledge of evidence, contracts, or civil procedure. As much as I hope that each examinee passes the exam, I’m as hopeful that, upon admission, each practices law by continually striving to W.I.N. his or her 3 feet of influence. It would make the profession better and serve as an example to all.
Whatever you do next, try to W.I.N. your 3-feet of influence. It’ll add up.