I wasn’t very old when instinctively I knew that one of the sureties of life was that most of what we do is going to be adjudicated by whether we won or lost. It goes to the very core of our being. Success is dictated by it. What I would later learn however, is that it goes well beyond that. It can be measured by the degree that we will or will not go to win.
Playground games taught us to compete. Life taught us how. No two people play a game the same way. Besides raw skill, the defining factor is our competitive spirit. How badly do we want it, whatever “it” may be. I have seen exceptionally competent people consistently lose because of a lack of confidence in their own knowledge and ability. Likewise, I have seen totally incompetent people rise in their careers wholly on their aggressive pursuit of always winning.
I have never given a lot of thought to why I did or didn’t do something, other then to filter it through my paradigm to validate whether it seemed to be the right or wrong thing to do at the time, while subconsciously, something in me was analyzing the perceived result. What should I do to win, and how important was it to me that I did. Sometimes losing can be the better part of valor. I am reminded of a time in my career when I was removed from a position to one of lesser responsibility. At the time I was crushed, but decided to accept the new position as a challenge to “show them they were wrong” by doing the best job I knew how. That would be my revenge. Some time later, while in a management seminar, we were each asked to pair off with someone in the room that we didn’t really know, other then by observation. We were then given a questionnaire asking us to evaluate our partner based upon our perceptions. The manager that had demoted me walked over and said “I want to pair up with you”. This was not going to end well I thought. However, when the time came to share our responses with each other, he said, “I want to go first”. He then said “I made a mistake. I made a decision based mostly on the opinion of another manager who I thought knew you better then I. I have changed my mind. I have seen how you handled the disappointment and accepted your new responsibilities.” He said several other nice things, but nothing that sticks with me like the vindication those few words conveyed.
I still have a desire to win, however, today my losses lean more toward friends, or family, or yes, temper. I wish I could say weight, but I seem to be losing the battle, and not the weight. On the other hand, my wins, while being small, are numerous. Every morning that I am blessed with another day, I have won. And when it comes time to review the won/lost column in the book of my life, I will look for the entry that says “always tried to be a little better then he was the day before” Check.