Shallow and Deep Wins

by Jun 27, 2024

Shallow and Deep Wins

Understanding the differences between shallow and deep wins can help individuals and organisations focus on what truly matters


Someone randomly liked one of my comments on a LinkedIn post from 2021 about U.K Sports Psychologist Pippa Grange’s concept of “Shallow and  Deep Wins”. This is such an important idea I think it’s worth re-visiting.

Grange is a highly acclaimed Sports Psychologist who worked with the England football team until 2019. She recognises that in both personal and professional areas of our lives, we can measure success in more than one way. She identifies two types of achievements  “shallow and deep wins.” While both provide a sense of accomplishment, they differ significantly in terms of their depth, lasting impact, and overall value.

Understanding these differences can help individuals and organizations strive for more meaningful and sustainable successes.

Grange shared:

“I coined the terms winning deep and winning shallow because I’d noticed so many people who had absolutely every trapping of success – and from the outside looked like absolute champions – but still didn’t feel fulfilled.”


shallow and deep wins

Shallow Wins

Shallow wins are superficial achievements that offer immediate gratification, but lack long-term impact. They often focus on short-term goals, quick results, or external validation. This includes:

  • Immediate gratification: Shallow wins provide a quick sense of accomplishment. This might include completing a minor task, receiving praise for a small effort, or winning a minor award.
  • External validation: These wins often rely on external recognition and cover things like social media likes, compliments from colleagues, or small bonuses.
  • Temporary satisfaction: The satisfaction from shallow wins is usually fleeting and once the initial excitement fades, there may be little lasting impact on motivation or self-esteem.
  • Superficial impact: Shallow wins typically don’t contribute significantly to personal growth or long-term goals. They are often more about checking off a box than making substantial progress.

Grange says:

Winning shallow is if you’re constantly chasing the next thing, but none of it ever feels like it fulfils you. That’s a very lonely place to be.

Deep Wins

Deep wins, on the other hand, are profound achievements that provide long-lasting fulfillment and contribute to meaningful progress. They are often the result of sustained effort, perseverance, and alignment with core values. Here are some characteristics of deep wins:

  • Long-term fulfillment: Deep wins provide a lasting sense of satisfaction and fulfillment which include things like mastering a complex skill, achieving a significant career milestone, or making a meaningful impact on others.
  •  Internal validation: These wins are often driven by internal motivation and personal values. The recognition may come from within rather than from external sources.
  • Sustainable satisfaction: The sense of accomplishment from deep wins tends to endure. They contribute to a person’s sense of purpose and can boost long-term motivation and self-worth.
  • Substantial impact: Deep wins often lead to significant personal growth, development, and progress toward long-term goals. They are transformative rather than transactional.


Worth a read: How to turn your career goals into a career strategy – 3 Plus International

The Importance of Balancing Shallow and Deep Wins

While deep wins are undoubtedly more meaningful, shallow wins also have their place. A balance between the two can be beneficial:

  • Motivation and momentum: Shallow wins provide the necessary motivation and momentum to keep you going, especially when working towards longer term, deep wins. They can offer quick boosts of encouragement along the journey.
  • Recognition and reward: Celebrating shallow wins can help recognise effort and maintain morale. It’s essential for individuals and teams to feel acknowledged for their contributions, no matter how small.
  • Building confidence: Achieving shallow wins can build confidence and a sense of capability, which can be crucial when tackling more challenging, long-term goals.

Aiming for Deep Wins

To cultivate deeper wins, there are some strategies which work better than others:

  • Set meaningful goals: Focus on goals that align with your core values and long-term aspirations. Ensure they challenge you and contribute to your personal or professional growth.
  • Develop perseverance: Deep wins often require sustained effort and resilience  so it’s important to develop the habit of perseverance, even in the face of setbacks.
  • Prioritise internal satisfaction: When you prioritise internal validation over external recognition, reflect on what truly matters to you and let that guide your efforts.
  • Reflect on progress: Regularly reflect on your achievements and growth. Recognize the steps you’ve taken towards deep wins and appreciate the journey.

Both wins can work

Understanding the differences between shallow and deep wins can help both individuals and organisations focus on what truly matters. While shallow wins provide the necessary sgort term boost and recognition, deep wins lead to lasting fulfillment and meaningful progress. Striking a balance between the two can lead to a more satisfying and successful life and career.  When we set meaningful goals, practice perseverance, pursue internal satisfaction, and reflect on our own progress, we can achieve deeper and more impactful success.


Take some time to think about your career goals and strategy today! Use these career reflection worksheets to structure your thoughts.

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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