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The winner takes it all


From aiding the English Rugby team to World Cup success to helping Scotland’s young people gain the tools to achieve their personal goals, graphologist and founder of the 'Winning behaviours model', Yehuda Shinar, spills the beans on business' best kept secret. Verity Gough investigates.

When you meet Israeli-born Yehuda Shinar, you immediately get a sense of the passion he has for his craft. And considering that this 'craft' has turned around the fortunes of several national sports teams and has been employed by governments and individuals alike the world over, who can blame him for his excitement? After dedicating more than three decades to the exploration of what can only be described as the 'winning formula' he has come to the UK to spread the word.

In fact Shinar’s list of testimonials from clients reads like a who’s who of global movers and shakers, with the likes of RBS, The London Stock Exchange and Capital Radio all keen to sing his praises - not forgetting the English Rugby Team whose 2003 World Cup success came directly after Shinar began working with them.

"When talking about winning, we do not refer to wars, fights and confrontations with others. A winner knows their own shortcomings and their own internal mental obstacles, so winning is in fact referring to winning over yourself."
But how did a man, a graphologist by profession, end up with the secret to the 'holy grail' of personal and professional success?


The winning database

The secret of 'winning' has always interested Shinar, particularly with a background in psychometrics and graphology. However, it wasn't until he established the Shinar Institute in 1975, with the backing of the Israeli government's Institute of Science, that his research into the psychological make-up of a winner began in earnest.
This led to an 18-year study which included creating a database of over 4,500 people from all types of cultures, backgrounds and professions to ascertain his formula. Shinar began sorting out the information into three separate categories: 'the deliverers', 'the mediocre' and the 'poor deliverers'.
Each entry into the database was compiled of two parts: Shinar's initial prediction, and the retrospective feedback from the client. "It was fascinating studying winners," explains Shinar. "The funny thing is when you ask 10 people what makes a winner, you get 20 answers," he laughs. "And that was what we realised: people want to be surrounded by winners, but they don't have a clue what makes a winner!"
Shinar set about divining the qualities and attributes of group A, the 'deliverers' and realised that the winning attributes identified in this group were non-existent in the others. And rather than simply looking at 'talent' or 'intelligence' as is the case with most other psychometric tests, Shinar realised that this wasn't a factor in being a winner.
"There was no correlation whatsoever between how talented or intelligent the person may be, and whether they belong to the deliverer group or not. You could find highly talented and intelligent people all over the three groups," he says. Instead Shinar and his team found that other attributes such as determination, motivation and the ability to learn from mistakes were far more important in determining whether someone will be a winner. However, the characteristic that stood out most of all was the individual's ability to avoid getting stuck in unnecessary corners.
"When we first make a mistake, we hold our head in our hands and when we do it again, we say, "Oh not again," but we are only human, we make mistakes! However, a winner never repeats their mistakes. They move on and learn from them by debriefing," he says.
Shinar explains that the winner's decision-making process leads them to the point that they can avoid mentally stressful situations by simply deciding not to become stressed. "If you put a winner under pressure and say: 'Tell me yes or no', he will answer when it suits him.  If there is an obvious corner they don't want to be in, then they won't be there."

The 12 dos and don’ts of winning

Following the analysis of the database, Shinar developed a 12-point model of behaviours which can be used for anyone determined enough to become a success. No matter what individual's circumstances.
Essentially the winning formula is made up of 12 thinking patterns, which are a collection of 12 dos and don'ts, as Shinar explains: "Anything which we do in life which involves learning skills always involves dos and don'ts – so all of a sudden winning becomes a skill which anyone can learn, if it's based on rules of dos and don'ts I can teach it to anyone who wants to learn it and they in turn can practise it," he says. So does this apply to everyone, or are some people born losers?
"We have 12 equivalent winning behaviours to every one of the winning thinking patterns. On top of that you can see that winners, it doesn't matter where they are, in Finland, England or Israel, they will keep on debriefing in a very simple and pragmatic, practical manner, to ensure that they are using these 12 rules.
"But when I see the motivation is not there, even when you are taking them through a process to help them discover the winner within, they have to want to make the change. Sometimes you see people who just don't want to be there, they are happy with the way they are – in that case, you can't force them."


But surely the approach for a hardened rugby or football team differs from tackling the executive board of a financial organisation? Not so, says Shinar. He explains that typically when he teaches the 12 winning behaviours he uses a local expert in order to translate the 12 into that particular work situation. In the England rugby team's case, a keen advocate of his winning system, Sir Clive Woodward took up the mantle.
"A winner never repeats their mistakes. They move on and learn from them by debriefing."
"It's like the model is the same but the implementation is different," says Shinar. "For example, one of the major rules I have mentioned is how to avoid unnecessary corners. How do we do this? We know our territory, and now the corner will be different in the financial world rather than the goalkeeper in football. So we put our people in to translate any one of these 12 into the right context.
"The train the trainer process is exactly what we did when we worked with the English rugby team – we trained the local leaders to learn the behaviours - this is part of our training options," he explains. In addition, Shinar is now able to share his workload with four newly recruited 'teachers' who underwent a stringent selection process.

Cultural clashes

Shinar is keen to point out that the 12 winning behaviours translate cross-culturally, and the aim of the programme is not to change cultures but to draw out winning attributes in leaders, no matter where they are based globally. "You cannot go to the Japanese leader and change his culture, his history, the flavour of the traditional leadership – you don't interfere with it," he says. "Remember leaders everywhere cope with pressure, competition, dealing with their own limits, their own obstacles: the physical, the mental, the emotional and the external barriers and all of them at the end of the day have to cope with the same kind of challenges."

So it seems to be successful and be a winner, you need an arsenal of skills and attributes, all of which can be taught. This includes a certain level of emotional intelligence: "You certainly need to be aware of people around you," says Shinar. "And have awareness of yourself too – because when talking about winning, we do not refer to wars, fights and confrontations with others – first and foremost, a winner knows their own shortcomings and their own internal mental obstacles, so winning is in fact referring to winning over yourself.

"Sometimes you see people who just don’t want to make the change, they are happy with the way they are – in that case, you can’t force them."
"It doesn't matter what the challenge is. The first thing is that stands between you and your success is you – winners understand this, take responsibility, they have no fear. When they end any kind of assignment even if it was OK, when it is over, they may say, yes it was OK, but how can I do it better next time?"
Is there anyone who Shinar believes could benefit from using his 12-point plan? Perhaps the government? "If you look at politicians they are a very good example of how people should not be. They are so confident in themselves, they don't feel they need to debrief, but a winner will do this regardless of what the public may think," he reflects.
Maybe a helping hand from the king of winning would be worth considering for our three major political players? However, it appears Shinar's sights are set on the greater good: "The future for us is anything that will provide a platform where we will be able to spread the word of winning and to share the winning ideas and strategies to prove winners are making themselves a good as possible," he concludes. "This includes training local leaders to become experts and giving them a framework of how they can become better in terms of self-fulfilment so they can reflect on the whole team, the whole organisation, or even the whole nation."
Yehuda Shinar will be speaking at TrainingZone Live on 25 May 2010 and will be running his 'Winning Intelligence' course on 27 May at the Emirates Stadium, London. Click here for more details.

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