What does winning mean, and what can we learn from winning moments?
It’s true, winning isn’t everything, but let’s not minimize all the positives that comes with winning, accomplishment, and achieving success. I feel like “winning isn’t everything” is a phrase used when:
- We don’t win.
- We are comforting others when they don’t win.
- A person’s desire to win is causing problems.
Winning isn’t everything, but it’s still important!
If you are like many people, you spent March and the first week of April analyzing teams, filling out brackets, and watching lots and lots of basketball until the men’s and women’s NCAA national champions were crowned on Monday, April 6th and Tuesday, April 7th. I’m not a huge college basketball fan, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the “madness” and I really appreciate the talent and pressure to perform that these 18 – 22 year old college athletes have. Most people wet themselves at the thought of having to do anything in front of people, much less perform at high level in front of tens of thousands.
Though the games were fun to watch, my favorite moment of March Madness wasn’t the games; it was an ESPN interview between Jon Gruden and UConn’s women’s basketball coach, Gino Auriemma. (Watch the Full Interview Here). The weekend before he won his 10th national championship, Auriemma answered questions about how he gets his team focused, getting the most out of his players, and how he handles the expectations and pressure to win the championship every year. The five minute interview has a lot of great stuff that is applicable to all areas of life, but I found the following quote from Auriemma to be the most moving and motivating for me personally.
“You wake up the morning after the national championship game and you lost; what happens? You get up. You still have your friends; you still have your family; mom loves you; dad loves you; you still have your scholarship. How much did your life change? Ah, you’re miserable for a couple of days, then you go back with your life.
You win tonight, you wake up tomorrow morning, your life has changed forever–because you’re a national champion!”
I think this quote moved me because the more experience I get and the more confident I become, the more fearlessly I see a world filled with endless opportunities and I want to win. When I was 24 and created my “By 30 Vision” I just wanted to help people change their lives. Shortly after I became a business coach, my vision got bigger and I wanted to travel the country speaking and working with leaders. Seven years ago if you would have told me that today, not only would I be doing that, but I’d be in the midst of publishing two books, I would have probably thanked you for the kind words, but in the back of my mind thought you were crazy. But, it’s really happening and with every little accomplishment and success my life is forever changed and no matter what happens in the future, they can’t be taken away.
How Is Your Life Changing?
It’s easy to put effort into something and be OK with coming up short or failing. We’ve all done it! Our culture can be very understanding and forgiving and as long as we are moderately resilient and maintain a good attitude, (as Auriemma said) life goes on and we are just fine. Nothing really changes. I have failed way more than I’ve succeeded and I’ve always been OK with that, until now. I took winning, accomplishment, and success for granted. I was slower to realize the confidence that is built and momentum created with even the littlest wins. I want to win and accomplish and have success because the pride, personal growth, and my life changing is worth busting my ass for. In a world of great opportunity, settling for less and coming up short is unacceptable. I’m not implying we shouldn’t be grateful for what we have and to win at all cost. We have to be grateful and make good decisions. I’m talking about having the attitude that you want to win, because that desire to be great is good for you and everyone around you. Status quo doesn’t change your life OR win national championships.
The More You Win, the More You Win
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about Canadian hockey. More specifically he explained some of the reasons why Canada’s most elite hockey players are so good. Yes, their ability is great, but there are other factors, such as birth dates. He outlines that if you look at the rosters of Canada’s champion junior hockey teams you will find that the majority of their players are born in January, February, and March; and in that order. Gladwell states, “In Canada the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey is January 1. A boy who turns 10 on January 2, then, could be playing alongside someone who doesn’t turn 10 until the end of the year- and at that age, in preadolescence, a 12 month gape in age represents an enormous difference in physical maturity.” In Canada, hockey is a way of life and the book states that, “Thousands of Canadian boys begin to play the sport at a novice level, before they are even in kindergarten.” What this means is that at four, five, and six years old, little boys born later in the year are playing beside and competing against other boys on their team who could be six to 12 months older. Especially at that age, the older boys will likely be bigger, faster, and stronger and that gives them an advantage that lasts their entire hockey career. Because they are bigger, faster, and stronger they are naturally better players. Because they are better players they get more ice time, attention from coaches, and opportunities to win, accomplish and succeed. With more opportunities and experiences of winning, accomplishing, and succeeding they become highly skilled and their confidence continues to grow.
The more we win, the more confident we become!
Winning Teaches Us How To Win
We learn great lessons from adversity and failing, but we also learn great things from winning. It gives is something to lean on the next time we’re faced with a challenge. It’s our story of success. We did it once, why can’t we do it again? If you watch sports you may have heard the phrase “they know how to win”. This statement normally comes up the week of a big game or when a player with a history of winning joins another team that doesn’t have a history of winning. “They know how to win” as in, they’ve done it before; they know how they did it and what it’s like. They have a story of success that not only contributes to their confidence, but can help others be more confident as well. They are leaders and mentors. They know how to win because they have won in the past.
What Does Winning Mean to You?
I love the Auriemma’s quote because it’s about the opportunity each player has; not simply to win a basketball game, but to change their life forever. We all have that opportunity if we are willing to dream. It’s all possible if we are willing to work. Now, I’m not talking about chasing things that aren’t important to you or doing things that don’t excite you. I’m talking about figuring out what it is that you are passionate about and doing something about it. Doing something that may feel small and insignificant, but will increase your confidence and sharpen your skills. Something meaningful that will change your life!
What does winning mean to you?
Previously published at JasonKiesau.com.
Photo: Anthony Crider/Flickr