How to Beat the Best at Their Own Game

by Tess

4330094463 b555f7a82c How to Beat the Best at Their Own Game

cc How to Beat the Best at Their Own Game photo credit: Admond

Hugh DeBurgh, The Passionate Warrior, has dedicated his life to the achievement of the ultimate family lifestyle. Currently he is on the second leg of a worldwide travel adventure with his wife and four young children. How brave is that? Follow Hugh on  Twitter or sign up for his RSS feed and don't miss an update!

hughphoto How to Beat the Best at Their Own Game

Everybody wants to win. 

Winning is fun.  Achieving what you set out to do is part of what life is about. But when we start thinking about taking on a challenge, we can quickly become discouraged.

Let's get something straight.  You are probably very good at doing some things, and not so good at doing others.  However, you can be certain that you are not the very, very best at doing anything.  There is always somebody else out there that can do it just a bit better.

Some might see this as a depressing thought.  Others as a challenge.  But today I am going to talk about achieving your goals in a competitive environment where you know you are not the best.

It would be nice if everything that we do was cooperative rather than competitive.  Yet, reality is that much of our world is set up in a competitive way.  If you want to be a gold medalist, well, there's only one medal.

The question is, why should you even start down that road if you know for a fact that there are tons of people out there who are more skilled or more talented than you?

Here's the secret to achieving success when you know you are not the best – you need to master the Power of Focus on Demand.

The Power of Focus on Demand (PFD) is built around the concept of "Magic Moments."  Magic Moments are those very few, key moments in life where what you do has a huge impact on the direction of your life.

I learned the secret of PFD when I was much younger, when I did something that seemed really stupid at the time.

You see, I was working for my family's small business.  And they were kind enough to pay my way to attend an industry conference – in Hawaii.  Now, if I went to an industry conference in Hawaii today, you can bet that I wouldn't make many of the meetings.  I figure you probably wouldn't either.

But back in those days, I was a creature of duty and discipline.  I believed that it was my duty to attend the conferences regardless of where we were.  So, while everyone else was on the beach, I was sitting in an empty conference room listening to some old American football coach explain why coaching football was a lot like running a successful business.

What I learned that day in that lonely conference room has stayed with me to this moment.  So I guess there is some justice in this world!

The Coach talked about how football players spend very little of their lifetime actually making a difference on the field. He noted that a great deal of the game consisted of just milling around setting up for the next play, or sitting on the bench.  

And even when the ball was in play, if you are a wide receiver, for example, the only moments that really matter are when the quarterback throws the ball to you.  Otherwise, you are just running up and down the field with little impact on the outcome of the game.

But more than that, a football player spends the vast portion of his career in practice games, or in the weight room, or just putzing around in the off-season.

This coach had figured out that in a single year, during their career, a typical player only spent a total of a few minutes involved in some action that actually made a difference to whether the team won or lost.  And, of course, as retired players, these guys' lifetime reputations relied solely on what they did in those few minutes a year during their career.

The Coach called these few minutes a year the "Magic Moments."  Those key instances when what you do really matters.  He said that you can screw up all you want the rest of the year, as long as you show up for those few Magic Moments.

I'll bet that there are Magic Moments in your life.  Times when what you say or do makes the most difference.  How you perform during that key interview, for example.  Or what you say to that special someone on a key date.  You get the idea.

Perfecting your performance during your own Magic Moments is the great leveler – it allows you to win even if you are not the best.  This is because most very talented people are good all of the time.  But they have their down days.  They get up on the wrong side of the bed every so often.  And sometimes the challenge just isn't that important to them.  They've got bigger fish to fry.  Sometimes, after all of your worry, they don't even show up when the key moment arrives.  But you'll never know this unless you follow through to the end.

Perfecting your Power to Focus on Demand – your ability to be totally present at the key moments of your life – is the secret to winning when you are clearly not the best one out there.

Start taking inventory of your likely future Magic Moments.  It's a lot less stressful preparing to focus intensely for just a few minutes than thinking that you've got to be the absolute best, 24 hours every single day.

So, give yourself a break.  Relax.  And spend some of your plentiful off time practicing your ability to focus in those key, Magic Moments when you truly want to be your best.  

Leveraging this one tactic can make a huge difference in your life.

The Way of the Passionate Warrior is Hugh’s contribution to assist and guide folks like you to a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.


Hugh’s academic credentials (Doctorate with high honors) and corporate leadership experience (former CEO, successful entrepreneur and author) led him to an understanding that there was more to life than simply the pursuit of money and power.

The Way of the Passionate Warrior is Hugh’s contribution to assist and guide folks like you to a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. 

Feel free to contact Hugh with your thoughts and comments about your ultimate lifestyle. His email address is hugh(at) Check out Hugh's The Passionate Warrior Blog at

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    { 17 comments… read them below or add one }

    Quinn February 10, 2010 at 7:02 am

    I have to say I have mixed feelings about this concept. While I like the idea and definitely agree that we have magic moments were our effort matters I don’t think that gives us an opportunity to relax the rest of the time. We never know when those magic moments will happen and maintaining good habits all the time will stand us in good sted when they do. Also it may be the application of the focus that creates a magic moment. If we are not being dedicated to putting forth effort some situations that could be magical remain mundane and opportunities fall by the wayside.
    .-= Quinn´s last post…The building blocks of personal development =-.


    Kevin J Porter February 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Hugh- interesting post. I agree with Quinn’s argument that we must not totally relax and slack during “most” of our time. The magical moments you speak passionately about will only reveal themselves as such after the moments have passed, and therefore we have no way of preparing ourselves for the experience. I would argue to try to commit ourselves to working a bit harder in attempt to create additional magical moments.

    When it comes to participating in an activity or competition that is full of better talent, I try to approach the situation as a way to learn and develop my knowledge and skill of the activity. The best way to learn is to surround ourselves with people who are smarter than we are.

    .-= Kevin J Porter´s last post…Reno Mayor Bob Cashell Interview on Commitment, Work Ethic, and Communication =-.


    Peggy February 10, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I can’t remember who said it, but “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” So I kind of get that Magic Moments are also when preparation meets opportunity. In the football ananology, Randy Moss isn’t Tom Brady’s go to guy all the time, but he’s always prepared – and when his preparation meets the opportunity of a Tom Brady pass, first downs are usually made and they do have a pretty good touch down record together.

    And to take this one step further…Tom Brady used to warm the bench for Drew Bledsoe. He never stepped onto the field of play until the magical year of 2001 when Drew got injured. Tom’s preparation met the opporunity that required this second string quarterback, 198th pick in the draft, to step up and step in – leading the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory in 2002 (football fans, if I’ve got the year wrong, I’m sorry!)

    So…in writing a response to this very thought provoking post, I’ve come to my own little a-ha moment. I must prepare and be prepared to greet the opportunities that will surely create my Magic Moments.

    Thanks Tess and Hugh!
    .-= Peggy´s last post…Procrastination Purgatory or Something Else? =-.


    Lindsey Petersen February 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I have to disagree with the concept that everyone wants to win. This may be an ego thing. Winning is nice. Loving others is also nice and sometimes the 2 don’t correspond.
    We recently had a house fire in our state and 5 great school athletes died. They were remembered NOT for maintaining the 28 year winning streak of their school’s hockey team, but the the ONE year they did not win, and they all stood up and gave the winning team a standing ovation. Classy.
    Lindsey Petersen


    Lloyd February 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Good food for thought
    .-= Lloyd´s last post…Successfully making the call =-.


    Joy February 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Great post. Thoughtful comments.
    I don’t think “magic moments” require you to be “on” all of the time. For me personally, mindfully present is a way of life– not an effort– and my magic moments are just part of who I am and how I live. The grandiose change someone’s life kind of moments, now those take thought and planning, and require energy, but still within my own life it’s more of a let the process unfold than will something to happen. Unfolding is easy, effortless, willing is exertion. I do believe *anything* is possible, as long as we are open and ready, the Universe can and does move mountains.


    Tess February 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I agree I want to always be prepared and ready for those magical moments. I think it’s the work, time and effort in between that make those moments magical.

    I think of the magical moments of motherhood and I know those magic moments could also be called milestones. I knew when they were coming so I could prepare my daughters and myself for them. Those are the kind I can think of that we know in advance.

    I love after all that football talk (I’m clueless) you came to a wonderful conclusion…I must prepare and be prepared to greet the opportunities that will surely create my Magic Moments. Well said.

    What an outstanding story! I am one who doesn’t have to win. My husband would completely agree with Hugh. He likes to win or there’s no sense playing the game.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I like your way of thinking…I think I’m working too hard;)


    Kristy February 10, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Hugh said “Magic Moments are those very few, key moments in life where what you do has a huge impact on the direction of your life.” A magical moment may not appear to be magical at the time . I think being aware or perfecting the Power of Demand is tremendously important. I might also add that it also involves taking the risk to act on the opportunity. Regardless of one’s definition, I do believe that one must choose where to focus their energy. Some moments may not appear to be so magically at that moment–like Hugh’s experience in Hawai–but the magic can appear after the fact whether a day, a month, or years later. I recognized most of my magical moments long after taking the opportunity.


    Lana - DreamFollowers Blog February 10, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I totally agree that there are those magical moments that make the most impact and if we focus on them we can relax a bit during other not so magic moments but I also agree with the previous commentators and think that it takes lots of awareness and being intune with your life to be able to see and predict those Magic moments.

    So we should be prepared, we should live iwth awareness and act on opportunities that are presented to us. I also believe we can consciously create those magic moments by being very clear on who we are and what we want. Clarity creates miracles.
    .-= Lana – DreamFollowers Blog´s last post…How To Get In The Flow or How To Connect With Your Inner Genius =-.


    Hilary February 11, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Hi Tess and Hugh .. interesting read – and I like Peggy’s comment – always be prepared for every opportunity so you can meet it and benefit as much as possible from it – ie do everything you can do today, declutter yourself – and be as ready as you can, while pursuing the actions you can do towards your goals and dream. Winning can be just winning for ourselves – achieving our own first.

    Travelling the world – what an opportunity for the kids .. enjoy it – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Rhinoceros chase – or how about a little rolling over with Hippopotami? =-.


    Zeenat{Positive Provocations} February 11, 2010 at 2:19 am

    HI Tess, An awesome guest post as always!~Hugs~

    Hi Hugh,
    What a wonderful life youre living..all in the moment..and creating magic moments in magic moments…wow! Youre truly an inspiration…and to live this life with 4 kids..kudos to you pal! Youre an inspiration to us all :)
    I agree with your views on this completely…we cant be our best at all times…but those times that we can…we should be a very very best….thats what makes those moments magical..and life as a whole truly magical and beautiful.
    Thank you for writing about such a wonderful topic. I am going to make a note of my magic moments now :)

    Much Love,


    Jannie Funster February 11, 2010 at 6:06 am

    Hi guys!

    This Magic Moment… Has that song been running through your head too?

    I believe whole-heartedly that Magic Moments are what propel us to greatness. Relax into the day-to-day foundations of success-building and those MMs will be there when you need them. Pretty much any breakthrough or success I’ve ever had has involved a MM because I showed up. So show up, that’s been my lesson. Show up physically and open- heartedly! That means with a smile on your face!


    janice February 11, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Thanks for a thought provoking article, Tess and Hugh; I enjoyed the comments, too. I have to disagree with this bit, though:

    However, you can be certain that you are not the very, very best at doing anything

    I am the very, very best at being me, my children’s mother and the creator of my life mosaic. No-one else can be me. That’s the only job I was sent here to do. It doesn’t matter how well I’m doing it from day to day, whether I’m having an inspired day or simply waking up and being breathed by the Power that gave me life. All we really have to do is be awake, be aware and be grateful for love and life. Everything else follows effortlessly and exactly as it’s meant to. We’re all doing the very best we can with what we’ve got at any and every stage of our evolution. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to work hard or try to make things the best they can be by our own standards or that everything’s going to automatically be all peace and light, but I don’t subscribe to sport and competition imagery. That’s why I parted ways with Coachville, when the sporting imagery became its vision.

    Like many of the commenters above, I’m a great believer in capturing moments. It’s the moments that make a life. My coaching column is called Coaching Moments because magic moments are available to us all the time if we’re aware enough to appreciate them when they grace us.
    .-= janice´s last post…Caldo Verde =-.


    Tess February 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    There have been time in my life I have recognized the magical moment while I was experiencing it, getting married, birth of children, graduations, special birthdays, moments with friend, family etc.

    I agree focus on demand is important. I think how or when it’s used is up to the individual.

    Very good…clarity creates magical moments. Isn’t that the truth!

    Oh yeah, get rid of clutter or you won’t “see” the magic in the moment and you can forget any deep focus as well.

    Yes what a dad Hugh is traveling with four kids! Having 4 myself I take my hat off to Hugh!

    Yes Z. I agree what a guy, four kids, magical moments and travel. I think Hugh is experiencing a magical way of life.

    Showing up whole – heartedly…please pass the M&M’s!

    Don’t you just love being the mom you were meant to be?!? I guess in the end our magic moments depend on who we are, where we are and how we decide to live life.

    Thanks all and thanks Hugh for giving us all an opportunity on getting clear about our own magic moments.

    Happy Travels!


    Carolynn February 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I like this perspective. I’m going to chew this one over a bit, while I keep one eye on the look out for my Magic Moment.
    .-= Carolynn´s last post…My Journey Outward – Connection =-.


    Ryan @ Planting Dollars February 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I think I’m okay with not being the best at anything in particular… although I could get pretty specialized and find a few things… however I think I’d rather be a jack of all trades (or king of all trades if you’re really good) and have a broader sense of self than a master of one thing.

    Either way I realize that those “magic moments” are only going to be capitalized on in the quiet hours when you’re hustling and nobody is watching. You’re right though, we don’t get that many magic moments so we need to be ready.

    Traveling around the world with 4 kids? Now that’s ambitious, I could probably hardly manage myself! Kudos to you Hugh.
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last post…Hiking Diamond Head and Snorkeling In Waikiki =-.


    Hugh DeBurgh ~ The Passionate Warrior March 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Hey Tess!

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to contribute here!
    The comments have been fantastic – and challenging!

    I apologize for being late in my replies. I’ve been busy preparing for another shove-off and I just forgot! :-)

    Everyone, thank you so much for your thoughtful replies. Each of you got me thinking. And you also clarified some of the ambiguities in my post.

    Quinn, Kevin and Lana – I guess my post did simplified things a bit. But my comments about relaxing weren’t meant to imply that we can be successful without effort. Those football players put in huge amounts of effort before reaching game time. And they are intensely focused on achieving their goal.

    This post was not only meant to get folks thinking, but also to lower the fear factor and stress levels when “going into the breach.”

    I am trying to reach people emotionally by describing a technique that is ultimately meant to lower anxiety. I (try to) say, “Don’t worry that you are not the best. See, you do have a realistic chance to win.” These are folks who perceive a frightening obstacle in front of them in the form of ominous competition.

    If you were one of the recent Olympic athletes, then you have put in years of training. But your effort is focused around achievement of one specific goal – the Gold – on one specific day. No matter how many times you fell or screwed up in practice, none of that matters. Just be at your best on game day. Don’t be sick. Reduce nerves. Feel good.

    When I went to law school, we spent each semester working our a** off on things that had no impact on our grade. The question of whether we would graduate or not, and ultimately of whether we would be admitted into the fraternity of lawyers, rested solely on a series of two-hour tests held on one day. While others were cramming last minute, I would spend the morning relaxing. The material was very hard. But I knew that it was more important to be clear headed, and not to panic or get emotionally overwhelmed, than it was to know every fact. And in truth, on law exams you can BS to a certain degree, as long as you are convincing. ;-) Those two hour periods were my “magic moments.” When it came to the question of getting that law degree, they were all that mattered.

    Thanks guys for your thoughtful replies!!

    Peggy – You got it 100%! :-) Thanks for summing things up!

    Lindsey – I’m with you. But this post was specifically targeted to people who have chosen to put a competitive process, and achieving a specific, concrete goal, at or near the top of their priorities. Personally, I love win-win. I think that I have been most successful when winning wasn’t that important to me. When I had my emotional priorities in proper order. But I knew that this technique had worked for me before and I thought I’d share it. Thanks for your thoughts! :-)

    Joy – Great point! Your approach is enlightened, and spiritually mature. I just thought that I’d pass on this technique, and let others come to their own personal conclusions as to its worth. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Kristy – Thanks! You got it too!

    Lana – I agree completely! Thank you!

    Hillary – Great points! I am neurotic sometimes about being prepared. And you’re right, you can’t be ready during those magic moments if you are not packed and ready to go ahead of time! Thanks a lot for your thoughts!

    Zeenat – Thank you for your kind words! :-)

    Jannie – Oh please don’t get that song going again!!! Thanks! ;-)

    Janice – Agreed. My focus with this post is on concrete achievements, and how best to approach them. My message was more practical, and subtly emotional, than it was spiritual. Your point is absolutely correct, of course. Thanks!

    Carolynn – I hope it helps! :-)

    Ryan – Thanks! I am too. But I guess that’s why this technique caught my attention. In those moments when I need to be a bit more than a “jack of all trades” it helps. :-)


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