Joe Kenn

Big House Power




WORDS WIN!  If you work[ed] with me, follow me on twitter, facebook, etc., these two words are not far behind.  Numerous people ask what it means and I explain to them where it came from and its meaning.  The more I use it the more I realize there is a whole lot more going on with these two words than I ever imagined.



OK, so here it goes, the definition of Words Win, and why I believe in it in many factions of my professional and personal life.  First off, WORDS WIN is the phrase, the sentence it is derived from is, The Word is Win.  This was our rally cry for one of the football teams I was coaching for.  Our head coach made it very simple for our players, The Word is Win, and at the end of the day that is what matters. So at the beginning and end of every game, practice, running session, or strength training session, the team broke it out on WORDS WIN!  And win we did going 10-3 and winning a PAC 10 Championship [we shared it with USC of course!].


I loved it!  It was simple, direct, and to the point.  So, as I am inclined to do, I exploited the saying and it comes up in everything I do in my life.  Am I perfect? No way, but I am a winner in more ways than one.  Also, I have looked at WORDS WIN in several other scenarios and how to use this in all aspects of life, so bear with me here as I may go on some tangents but, in the end I believe you will get the picture.


Everyone wants to be associated with winning, regardless of whom we are or what we do in life, in the end we want to be a winner.  In sports it is simple, at the end of the competition the athlete or team with the highest score is declared the WINNER.  In track events the individual who crosses the line first is declared the WINNER.  In bodybuilding the person with the fewest points in declared the WINNER.


In business, you may be vying for a promotion and who ever brings in the largest account at the end of the month will be promoted.  Promotion equals WINNER.  You and your staff are working on a project that will land you the rights to build a chain of hotels in LAS VEGAS [my favorite city]. If your plans are chosen, your company gets notoriety, you and your staff get bonuses, and you help thousands of people land numerous jobs at these hotels.  Landing the contract equals WINNER.


Winning In life should include the following: having an engaging relationship with the love of your life, being a positive role model to your children and siblings, and being a positive influence in your community.  All these and more make you a WINNER.  Get the picture, NO ONE WANTS TO FAIL.  We are all driven in some ways to be the best we can be.


Sometimes you may not come in first but, you still may have succeeded previous expectations and goals. There lies a WORDS WIN moment.  I will give you a personal example in my powerlifting career.  I placed second in a meet and was asked why I didn’t win.  In this scenario the best I could finish based on the competition that participated was second place, a podium finish [podium finish usually means 1st through 3rd place]. You cannot change your strength levels overnight.  I accomplished my best competitive squat at the time, 635 pounds on my 3rd attempt.  My competition’s 1st attempt or opener was 800 pounds.  I can’t just wake up and believe I am going to squat 805 to beat him.  You get the picture.  I beat everyone else so I finished the best I could on that particular day.  I know lifters that don’t even worry about their finish, they are worried about setting personal records, to them that is a WORDS WIN.


Let’s face it, losing sucks.  And when you are losing it affects everything.  Let’s take the case of a college football team since this is what I am closely associated with.  It is eerie to see the differences in a winning team versus a losing team.  Believe me I have been on both ends.  When you are winning you seem to have fewer athletes missing or late to class, study hall, meal checks etc.  They generally are not getting in as much trouble off campus.  They are excited to practice.  It’s not 100% but it is much better than when you are losing.


Obtaining a winning attitude in one area of your life will generally carry over to all aspects of your daily living if you let it.  It’s hard to be a winner every time out so let’s remember another mantra developed from my favorite Coach and our leadership group, Answer the Scratch, Relentless Determination is the Passionate Pursuit of Excellence.  The values that we followed were preparation, sacrifice and fight adversity. [We went to 3 consecutive bowls using this mantra, winning 2 of them]


That’s right “WORD’S WIN”.  This is a hard one to manage at times, especially when frustration and anger come into play.  How you speak to someone or better yet, how you chose to speak to someone by the words you use can make a conversation a positive or negative one.  In my studies of the Noble Eightfold Path this is considered the ethical conduct of “Right Speech.”  Remember the strength of Words, they can make enemies of friends, start wars or create peace, or break or save lives.  In the context of coaching, words can build confidence, morale, relationships, and lasting friendships or they could crush them all!  This is a tough one and one that I am constantly trying to improve at.  Remember what most people say, with age comes wisdom.



If you are going to Talk the Talk you need to Walk the Walk.  Right Speech needs to equal Right Action.  If you are going to say something, you need to take ownership in it and act accordingly.  Right Action in this case is very simple; DO WHAT’S RIGHT WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING!  For athletes, this is extremely easy and yet some make it hard. Go to class and be on time for all scheduled events.   Skipping sets or reps in the weight room because the coach isn’t looking is just another form of an It’s Not a Race for Last person.  You are not getting over; in the long run it will come back and bite you.  My good friend and colleague Jean Boyd had one of the best sayings for this, “ARE YOU A CHARACTER OR DO YOU HAVE CHARACTER.”


WORDS WIN!  The meaning is relative to your goals and actions, two simple words that go a long way.  Hopefully this made some sense to you and you can create your own WORDS WIN moments.  It makes sense to me and it is and I am a constant work in progress!




Joe Kenn