The greatest secret to winning in any form of competition is to try to win. If you pour everything you have into getting to first place, not beating one particular person and not accepting there are some people there that you can't beat, you will score some firsts. Winners find ways to win, also rans find ways to not win. I have competed with thousands of people over the last forty years and change and I know most aren't competing for first place in their own hearts and minds. It gives those that are a huge edge, even those of us just hanging on the top players' coat tails.It sounds obvious but I bet most people will not translate this into concrete action.
It's one thing to learn to shoot pool and another thing to learn to win.