‘The Winners Mindset’

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22nd August, 2023

Sport is a terrific metaphor for life, and there are several sporting stories that inspire and motivate us.

One of the most inspiring stories is the tale of Károly Takács who was a sergeant in the Hungarian army.

In 1938, the 28-year-old was the country’s top pistol shooter, having won most major championships.

He was the favourite to win Gold at the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Then, disaster struck.

At an army training session, a hand grenade accidentally exploded in Károly’s shooting hand.

Not only did his entire Olympic dream crash, he also lost his shooting hand.

‘Why me?’

Károly could have been excused for asking the question most of us would have asked. He could have wallowed in self-pity, an understandable reaction for someone after such a tragic turn of events.

We would sympathize with him if he were to become a recluse, a living example of how fate can devastate the best-laid plans.

But Károly was made of sterner stuff.

Instead of focusing on what he had lost—his right hand, he chose to focus on what he still had.

He had mental strength, the mindset of a winner, the determination to succeed and yes, a healthy left hand.

A left hand which, he thought, he could train & transform into the world’s best shooting hand.

After a month in hospital, Károly went away from the glare of the world & began practising to shoot with his left hand.

Despite the pain his body still reeled under, despite the strain the left hand had to undergo to also do all that the right hand had earlier done, he stayed focused on his goal: to make his left hand the best shooting hand in the world.

One year later, Károly resurfaced at the national shooting championship in Hungary. His colleagues were delighted to see him

but they were taken aback when Károly told them that he wasn’t there to see them shoot; he was there to compete with them.

In fact, Károly won the championship.

Just one year after losing his right hand, he won with his left hand.

Unfortunately for Károly, his Olympic dream remained unrealized for a while, as two successive Games were cancelled due to the world war.

Károly was chosen to represent Hungary in the pistol shooting event in the London Olympics in 1948

and he won gold shooting with his left hand.

Imagine being a gold medal favourite, losing your shooting hand in an accident, yet picking yourself up from the shattered mess, training your left hand to shoot as well or better, and going on to win the Olympic gold.

Four years later, in the Helsinki Olympics, Károly Takács again won Gold in the Pistol shooting event.

That is the stuff champions are made of.

We all have moments in our lives when we seem so close to glory but suddenly lose everything and it seems that the world is conspiring to destroy us. Our dreams get shattered.

We feel vanquished, crushed, beaten, defeated. And we cry aloud, ‘Why me?’

When that happens, think of Károly, in fact, think like him.

Don’t worry about what you’ve lost.

Focus on what you still have.

Your inner strength,

Your mental toughness,

No one can take these away.

Don’t lose yourself to self-pity. Pick yourself up quickly.

Momentum is key. Károly’s decision to practise quietly, away from scrutiny, was significant.

Károly was back on the practice range a month after the accident.

When you are down, think like a boxer: if you are knocked down, you need to stand up in ten seconds or less. One extra second, and it’s all over.

Set yourself a goal and focus on achieving it.

A goal helps channelize the mind and body to work on what needs to be achieved, rather than looking back and worrying about past losses, about what might have been.

When your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, it’s not easy to wish them away. You need a positive thought—a goal—to replace and banish negative thoughts.

Winning a gold medal in pistol shooting is less about the hand, more about the mind.

Lives like that. Winning is less about skills, more about attitude. Skills can be acquired, as Károly demonstrated with his left hand.

Remember the Károly Takács mindset or the Nicki Lauda mindset- The winner’s mindset!

Abhishek Bachan’s latest movie, ‘Ghoomer’ has also been inspired by the life of Károly Takács. Sports history is full of stories of grit, determination, winning against all odds and how having the ‘Winners Mindset’ is the most important attribute to succeed.

We all have moments in our lives when we seem so close to glory but suddenly lose everything. When, God forbid, in case that happens, don’t worry about what you’ve lost, focus on what you still have & stay blessed forever.