Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Difference Between Losing and Being Beaten

“He who chases two rabbits catches neither.”Confucius

In his book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeon tells the story of Larry Gelwix, one of the most successful high school rugby coaches in history.

In thirty-five years, his Highland High School Rugby Team compiled a record of 419 wins, 10 losses, and 20 national championships! 

If you played for coach Gelwix, here’s what he would tell you:

There’s a difference between losing and being beaten. Being beaten means that your competition is better. They’re faster, stronger, and more talented than you. Losing means that you lost focus!” 

Gelwix has created the following acronym using the word WIN to highlight the importance of focus: What’s Important, Now.  

Is your competition better, faster and stronger than you are? If you just yelled the words “HECK NO” at your computer screen, I have good news: You can change your results by channeling your focus.

By now you may be thinking, “Great Rugby opening Twiggs, but what does this have to do with my shop?”

Stay focused to discover how this looks in your world.

Are YOU Losing or Being Beaten?

The following is an imaginary scenario for you to consider: My customer “Chris” walks up to the counter with the following concern: “I have a 2013 Ford Fusion. How much to replace front brakes?”

I respond with, I’d be happy to assist you, but first I need to know the year make and model of the vehicle!”

If he declines the estimate and has the work done with my competition, did I lose or was I beaten?

The answer to the question “What’s Important Now?” is Chris. Instead of focusing on him, I was waiting for my turn to talk, thinking about what I would say next, and mentally planning my presentation.

The bottom line is that I lost. He told me the year make and model, but I wasn’t listening! This lack of focus created enough doubt to cause Chris to price shop.

Here’s the big takeaway: Listening can keep you from losing. What has a failure to listen caused you to lose?

Listen Generously

ATI Fundamental #13 is to Listen Generously. I’ve discovered that most declined estimates are the result of a failure to listen.

Most bad hires are the result of the failure to listen during the interview. A good employee will want to leave when the boss fails to listen.

It will become easier to listen generously when you consider this: the person in front of you may have that one piece of information that you need to succeed.

When you listen to your customer, you can discover what her plans are for the vehicle and explain how your service is aligned with her plans.

When you listen to your colleagues in your 20 Group, you can learn from those who have overcome the biggest issue that you’ve been struggling with.

When you listen to your coach, you will discover the strategy that can result in more profit even if you are experiencing less car count.


So, there you have it. The difference between losing and being beaten boils down to focus. When you’re not focused, you beat yourself.

The best way to focus is to listen generously to the person in front of you. I challenge you to listen as if you were going to be tested on what’s being said.

This will help you to focus on What’s Important Now!

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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.