woman swimming 88.
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"You're lucky you caught me here. I'm leaving in the morning for London," said Yehuda Shinar. "Lately, I've only been coming back to Israel to do my laundry."
What's been keeping the Israeli businessman in such demand in the UK by sports organizations and businesses is the 'winning formula' he's spent more than 20 years developing.
Yuda, as the 57-year-old Shinar is affectionately known by all who come in contact with him, helped England win the Rugby World Cup in 2003, assisted Scotland's swimmers ahead of their successful performance at last year's Commonwealth Games in Australia, is a consultant to UK Athletics and is currently advising the Scottish rugby squad.
"When we came out with the Winning Model, we were issuing a kind of a declaration for the whole world - 'Hey guys, all you sports scouts and business executives, stop looking for particularly talented, gifted people because they aren't necessarily the ones that will deliver for you,'" Shinar said at the end of a long day, as he was headed home to pack.
Shinar's model identified 12 winning behavior patterns covering such aspects as self-control, decisiveness, leadership and time management - all falling under the umbrella T-CUP (Thinking Clearly Under Pressure), which he says is the one key to developing a winning mentality. According to Shinar, over-reliance on those with talent is a strategic mistake - mainly because in many cases very talented individuals do not prove themselves and do not necessarily "deliver the goods" in the way expected.
Instead, he identified attributes that contribute to the definition of a "winner" - including a combination of a "warrior" mentality, a high level of thought, and a reasonable skill level. That somewhat unconventional approach has earned Shinar a host of disciples, including former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward.
"The first meaningful test of the Winning Model was with the England national rugby team in 2000," said Shinar. "It was a very embarrassing time for them. The glory of rugby had shifted to the southern hemisphere, and they simply weren't among the best teams. England couldn't bear the humiliation.
"Then through a mutual friend, Woodward heard about my concept, and asked that I be flown over to talk. I explained to him about the concept of winning, and within 10 minutes, he said, 'That's exactly what we've missed.' He then took the decision that changed his life and changed my life. He took on board the wining model," Shinar said.
Shinar began holding sessions with Woodward and his coaching staff, and within a few weeks, the team's fortunes began to turn around, and within months they had rebounded to become a winning team, culminating in the 2003 World Cup victory.
"It's still considered in England as one of their biggest sporting achievements. The queen invited Clive to meet her and knighted him, so from that day on, it's been Sir Clive. He wrote a book called Winning in which he described the whole story and dedicated a big section to the winning strategy and to me," said Shinar.
In his book, Woodward says of his early meetings with Shinar: "We had to get him to England as soon as possible... some of his ideas are fascinating."
He said the Winning Model "was to play a central role in England winning the World Cup. The winning method allowed us to understand more fully what makes winners, and how they cope with challenges."
Shinar said he stumbled on the winning concept in his position as a graphologist, trying to analyze what a person's handwriting says about their underlying character.
"What you're trying to find out when dealing with graphology and psychometric tests are the qualities of the candidates - like trustworthiness and responsibility. I had clients all over the world, and increasingly the question I was getting asked to answer from the graphology tests was, 'Is this candidate going to be a winner?'" said Shinar.
"So, it was an embarrassing situation - I couldn't answer their question. Therefore I made a decision to initiate my own research and get to the bottom of the issue. And that research has lasted in essence to this day."
Through his graphology work, Shinar had a large database of personality profiles, the types of jobs to which they applied, and retrospective feedback from employers on the performance of the workers. He spent about 10 years sorting through the data, and eventually came to two realizations.
"There was absolutely no correlation between the level of talent or intelligence a person had and the likelihood that he would deliver in his job. What the successful people did share, however, was one quality, the ability to maximize one's potential even under pressure and competitive situations," he said.
Shinar's next task was to determine how those "class A" people maximized their potential when more talented people failed. And after more years of research he realized that the answer was in the way they thought.
"It's not necessarily more sophisticated, but it's different. By decoding this way of thinking, we were able to characterize it and discovered 12 different patterns, and as a result we created the 12 different winning behaviors and the T-CUP umbrella group," he said.
Shinar established Winning Enterprises to market his findings, and following his success with Woodward's rugby team, Shinar's talents came in heavy demand, with other teams, organizations and businesses asking him to lead seminars, take on projects and transform them into winners.
"The process began by working with coaches, but we've developed more training methods and now it's built upon both managers and players. It can stretch anywhere from a one-time seminar, to a few meetings, to long term escorting - all options are available," he said.
"We've begun working with the Scottish Institute of Sport - both with their swimming teams and their national rugby team. It was the pioneering enterprise of a few people in Scotland who took the initiative to change something basic in the Scottish mindset - now it's a national project," he said.
The exposure and success have opened up new doors for Shinar, who sees himself as less a motivational speaker than a facilitator. Random House asked him to write a book about the winning formula, which will be published in September, and he's been able to take on an enlarged staff to handle the demands on his time.
"Until now, it's only been me and our representative in the UK - Tony Faulkner. Now we're in the process of training some more winning facilitators and it's going very well. It will ease some of the pressure from my shoulders and allow me to spend time with my family and friends - and indulge in my addiction to playing squash." Which he usually wins...