Is Winning Everything?
In this day and age, “winning” seems to be overemphasised in almost every part of our lives.
Think about it – in sports, it’s all about winning. In sales, it’s all about winning the sale.
Is winning everything?
The legendary Vince Lombardi once said “Winning is not everything. It’s the only thing”.
That quote seems to be taken the wrong way in some cases.
Sure, for a very accomplished sports coach like him, he had to focus on winning.
Some people take that quote as saying that you must win at any cost. Hence, they can resort to doing unethical things in order to win. We see examples of this whenever an elite athlete is tested positive for banned substances.
In an article in the Huffington Post, Cathy Byrd said “Sometimes the greater lesson lies in falling down and getting back up again with a smile on your face”.
I remember watching the Olympic games a few weeks ago (Rio 2016). A hurdler from Haiti, by the name of Jeffrey Julmis hit the first hurdle in a men’s 110 metre hurdles heat. He fell to the ground, got up, and slowly finished the race. The crowd gave him a bigger applause than they gave to the winner of that race!
Cathy Byrd’s above mentioned quote perfectly sums up the scenario that Jeffrey Julmis was in.
I used to get disappointed when I didn’t win or place in speech contests. Let me share an example with you.
In November, 2011, I was in a speech contest. There were 6 contests, and I drew the first speaker’s spot. As soon as I started speaking, a massive storm hit. The rain made a deafening sound, and people at the back of the room could barely hear me.
As soon as my speech finished, the storm had passed. The remaining 5 speakers had no background noise.
I came third in that contest and was devastated. People were coming up to me and telling me how much they loved the message in my speech, and they wanted me to win. Yet, some of the judges could barely hear me due to the heavy rain.
Upon getting home that night, I decided to quit competing. What a mistake that would’ve been.
The next morning, I changed my decision and decided to work harder. If it rained heavily again, perhaps, I will tell the chairperson that the background noise is too distracting.
The focus shifted on the impact that the message of the speech made, and away from where I finished on the podium.
In the final year of high school, I was in the state division final of the 400 metres and 800 metres race in athletics. During the 400 metres race, I was leading all the way, and fell to the ground only inches away from the finishing line. Thankfully, I dragged my body across the line but the boy was who behind me beat me to the finishing line. I came second.
That day, I felt like I was so close to being a winner. It was all there for me, and it got taken away from me at the last minute. The boy who won the race, offered me his hand and helped me to get up. It was such a humble display of sportsmanship that the crowd cheered and clapped as he lifted me up. That to me, was worth more than winning.
We often hear quotes like “Do you remember who came second at this particular Olympics event? Neither do I. No one remembers the runner up. We only remember winners.”
These types of quotes only focus on what others think, feel, or do, while totally ignoring the person in question ie. the person who came second.
Can you imagine the growth and development that the second place getter would have experienced in achieving what he/she achieved?
Winning is a very sound goal to have in mind. That said, it should not become everything that matters to you.
When everything depends on winning, that is when your attitude can become dangerous.
Dangerous in the sense that you can become tunnel visioned and only focus on one thing, while totally ignoring everything good that is happening and will happen even if you don’t win.
I teach kids at a mixed martial arts academy. Some of their parents take their kids to a competition with the attitude of “If my child doesn’t win today, it is the trainer’s fault”.
Then they will argue with the trainer and threaten to take their son/daughter to another academy or gym.
I often ask these parents “What would it mean to your child if you acknowledge and express gratitude towards everything that your child has achieved so far?”
That definitely gives them something to think about.
There should be as much celebration in growth and development as there is in winning.
The next time you are competing in something or are working hard to win something, please remind yourself of the following:
- What can I do with what I have if I don’t win?
- What will I gain as a result of this effort?
- What will I become as a result of this effort?
- What will I be telling people around me, about me as a result of my attitude/response if I don’t win?
Quote: “Don’t worry your life away waiting for the elusive prize at journey’s end. The journey is the prize.”
Be prepared to win, work hard to win, and expect the best (whatever that might be).
Inspiring you towards your excellence,