Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Create a Winning Expectation

“How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? You have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it.” Jim Valvano

The NCAA College Basketball tournament is known as “March Madness.” In this win or go home playoff, the dream of every player is to win the national championship game.

Young “ballers” grow up watching the tournament with the dream of hitting the game-winning shot that propels their team to victory. Coaches dream of being carried off the court in victory on the shoulders of their players.

When a team wins the big game, tradition dictates that every player takes a turn cutting down the nets. Coach Jim Valvano, who coached at North Carolina State back in the 1980s, had an interesting twist on this tradition.

When “Coach V” arrived at North Carolina State in 1980, he inherited a program that was mediocre at best. Yet, during his first speech to his new team, he dared to declare: “We will win the national championship!” This seemed ridiculous since the team had failed to even qualify for the tournament round during the previous five years!

Coach V was so sure that he ended each of his team’s practice sessions the same way: He grabbed a ladder and had each player take a turn cutting down the nets. Sounds crazy right?

What’s the point of having a mediocre team practice cutting down the championship nets? Here’s the point: In 1983 The North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the world by winning the national championship game!

After the game, the players took turns cutting down the nets. Several of them mentioned during post-game interviews that climbing the ladder to cut down the nets felt like déjà vu!  They had done it so many times in practice, they expected it to happen!

Coach V gave his players a picture of what was possible. He created a winning expectation. What are you doing to create a winning expectation? I have two suggestions that I will share.

Ideas to grow your businessWant more tips for how to set winning expectations in your business during COVID-19? Discover valuable ideas and strategies in ATI’s free webinar Beyond COVID—Restoring Confidence, Car Count & Cash Flow.

Write Your Goals Down Every Day

I was watching an interview recently with Pamela Valvano, the wife of Coach V. She said that before she took his sports coats to the dry cleaners, she had to remove these 3X5 cards from the pockets. If she dropped off five coats, she would have to remove five cards beforehand.

She went on to reveal that he used these cards to write his goals down every day. Item #1 on each card was “I am a national champion.”

In his book “Be Obsessed Or Be Average,” Grant Cardone describes the habit of writing your goals down daily this way: “Anything worth doing is worth doing every day.” A goal that isn’t written down is merely a wish.

Writing it down puts your subconscious mind to work at attracting ideas, resources, and people that line up with what you want. The key to creating a winning expectation is to write your goals in the present tense as if you already have what you desire.

Want a 30% net profit to sales ratio? Then write “I average 30% in net profit” every day. Want to rank in the Top 12 in the Top Shop Race? Then write “I am a Top 12 Shop Owner” every day.

Want a shop where profit doesn’t depend on your presence? Then write “I am the absentee owner of a successful shop” every day. If you can view it, you can do it. By writing your goals down every day, you will “view it,” and therefore create a winning expectation.

Put in the Work

Let’s do some math: Three frogs are sitting on a log. One decides to hop away. How many frogs are left? Here’s the answer: ALL three! The one frog only decided to jump. It failed to put in the work of jumping so its situation never changed!

You can write your goals down every day, create your vision board, and you can rub the magical genie lamp! If you don’t commit to putting in the work, you’ll end up like the frog on the log.

It should be noted that Coach V’s teams practiced cutting down the nets after they practiced playing basketball! It was the combination of visualizing what they wanted along with putting in the work that made their dreams a reality. Since they had prepared to win, they expected to win.

You can write down the words “I am a top 12 shop owner” every day. If you never adjust your pricing, look for personnel, or meet with your people, you can’t expect to win because you haven’t put in the work!


So there you have it. If you commit to writing your goals down every day, and then putting in the work, you will create a winning expectation. It’s time to grab that ladder because you’re about to shock the world!

For more tips on protecting your business, staff, and customers during these challenging times, check out our free webinar Beyond COVID—Restoring Confidence, Car Count & Cash Flow.

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.