Monday, March 29, 2010

It's how you play the game

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. That’s what we tell our children. But is it what we really believe? I mean, who doesn’t love to win? Winning is awesome. Winning feels good. Winning is so very, very cool. It rocks! But is it really what matters in the end?

I’m a competitive person. I always have been. I was in 4-H as a child. I still have my box of ribbons and trophies. I also had one of the fastest horses in our neighborhood growing up. It was either me on my horse Toby, or Gwen on her horse Little Man who came in first in races. I always liked first better than second. I like winning card games and am quite happy when I stomp someone playing Yahtzee. I enjoy nothing better than being the house Guitar Hero top-dog for the night. I won’t even let my children beat me if I can help it. I rationalize this by believing it will make them tougher in the end. In high school I raced my 1976 Subaru down several gravel roads trying to beat guys next to me. I’ve even competed for the attention of boys with other girls. . . that shocks you doesn’t it?! And of course, there’s CrossFit. No, competition there, huh?

So now that I have established I like winning, let’s talk about losing. Based on what I’ve just said, one would assume that I think “losing” is just awful. But believe it or not, I don’t think that. There is something to be said for giving it your best and being happy with the outcome. I know what I said about how cool it is to come in first, but there are times when the one you’re competing against is yourself. It’s then that you need to think about what it means to win.

Define “winning” for yourself. What does it really mean to you? Gaining a sense of accomplishment that you didn’t have the time before? A new PR? In my mind, that’s winning. Winning is sometimes just finishing. Winning is bettering yourself. Winning can be overcoming something that you fear and conquer. Each circumstance is different, but the result is the same.

In addition, there is “good-natured” competition and there is “win at all costs” competition. I am a fan of the former, rather than the later. Losing gracefully is of equal importance as to winning gracefully. Maybe this is something I should learn when playing board games.

Here is what I think. And it’s what I try to live by, although I don’t always. . . Work your ass off. Play smart. Push your boundaries. Go the distance. Do every thing that “they” say to do when you want to achieve greatness.

But remember . . . Sometimes the outcome isn’t “First Place.” Second Place is not the “First Loser.” And sometimes you just did your “Best.”

In any event, try to believe in your heart that YOU’VE WON.


  1. I love a good friendly competition. First place is always nice but contrary to popular belief I don't mind coming in second or third...on occasion :)
    I really love beating an old PR! That is an awesome feeling.

  2. I was being hard on myself. Set out for a 13 miler today but only did shy of 12. My pace wasn't good either. My daughter kept calling me interrupting my 'moment' and running high. My 8 min pace quickly dwindled to 10 and then 11 as I had to keep stopping to talk to her. Then at mile 10 my calf muscle was cramping up and I headed home. Then, I read this and thinking, I won! I won because I went out of my 8 mile box to strive for 13 and completed 12. I won. In my mind, it's first place, for now. Thank you!!!