What Winners Won’t Tell You: Lessons from a Legendary Defender by Malcolm Jenkins

c.2023, Simon & Schuster   
304 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

Right in front of you, that’s where it is – or, at least that’s where success should be but you sometimes wonder if you don’t have all the facts. You’ve need to research being successful, and do some thinking on it. Or read What Winners Won’t Tell You by Malcolm Jenkins, and you can try following the clues.

Hard to believe, but when former NFL defensive back Malcolm Jenkins was a boy, he tried to quit playing Pop Warner football twice. His father wasn’t hearing it, though; he told Jenkins “You got to finish what you start,” even when you hate it.

The lesson stuck: as a 13-year-old, Jenkins went out for track and excelled. He “wasn’t dreaming about being in the NFL” then, nor did he particularly want to play football in college. He “just loved to compete” but later, after a week at football camp caught the attention of the right coach, things were different. By time he got home from that camp, a letter with a full scholarship was waiting on his doorstep.

As a first-round draft pick, 14th overall, for the Saints and later having played for the Eagles, he writes about being strategic in his career, being a good team-player, and about having the confidence to reach beyond and grab for success.

You can be accomplished, too, he says, if you remember that “for fear to win, you have to be afraid…” Don’t let other people’s opinions become “self-fulfilling.” Know who works for you, and be sure they have your back. Give back to your community. Learn where you came from. Be open to change in your organization and your outlook, and trust science.

Finally, collaborate, cooperate, and “show up every day to get better.”

Is What Winners Won’t Tell You an odd choice for a business book?

Yes… and no.

Deep, deep within this memoir are many interesting and worthwhile nuggets of inspiration and advice, but you’ll have to look for them. They’re buried inside tales of football – so much so that if you don’t understand football even just a little bit, you’ll be too lost, too fast, and you’ll never find them. Indeed, this book contains more football anecdotes, strategies, and swagger than there are the “lessons” promised. Still, the lessons are there for you to find, and the stories serve to illustrate the importance of them.

There’s a bigger issue than hidden lessons, though: readers searching for inspiration will find a lot to rattle them. Author Malcolm Jenkins adds plenty of needless profanity in this book, and though some can be expected, there’s also a highly disrespectful obscenity about women, and other casual but largely-unnecessary insults flung here and there. Readers who can tolerate that may still find it disrespectful.

If you are obsessed with the game of football or a fan of Jenkins and his incredible talent, you may find this book a must-read. If you’re not a fan, then What Winners Won’t Tell You is a just plain “no.”