In this week’s spotlight I would like to discuss the idea of winning. It seems today that there are many who discourage winning for everyone is a winner. Now the idea is applaudable for it is designed to encourage people to participate who might not otherwise. As such, schools across the country, by way of example, often reward mediocre effort.
The problem with this strategy is real life. In real life the best candidate wins the job, the most attractive wins the beauty contest, the best grade point earns the scholarship, the best athlete goes on to play pro ball, and so forth. In other words, in the real world wining is all about where you end up in life.
What do we really teach our young people when they are rewarded for inadequate effort? To assume that every insufficiency is the best the person can do fails to encourage them to do better. If winning isn’t important, how do we motivate that young person to reach down, and do their very best and to reach further down to find improvement every time they have an opportunity to compete.
As much as so many today wish to think that winning and losing is an obsolete standard from an old America, the fact is life is all about competition. You compete for your mate, for your job, for advancement, and so on. Even our political process is all about competition, and competing to win the hearts and minds of the electorate is not just a political matter. We all compete to win our way with our friends, family, peers, fellow workers, etc.
Think about all the negotiations you personally have been involved in whether as a spouse, a parent, an employee, or an employer. Of course we want win-win scenarios where possible but that’s not always feasible.
I remember reading a book several years ago, the title of which was F (that infamous four letter word that begins with F) Yes, by Wing Fing. Fing suggests a story where his teen daughter, 15 or 16 years old, informs him that she is going to drop out of high school and go off with her boyfriend. Fing thinks about this, and says something like, “Sure—why not? F yes—run off and get pregnant, and live in some slum while your dude hunts for work, or make up a cardboard sign and beg on the street corner. F yes, and after a couple of years when the romantic excitement wears thin, and he leaves, you can take the kid, or maybe more than one, and find a shelter to live in. F yes—no education, a high school drop out, some shelter will take you and your kids in. F yes—why not?”
For Fing, the art of persuasion begins with agreement. Still, the negotiation is essential unless you want your daughter living in the street.
For me, competition is an essential tool in a balanced set of life skills. That doesn’t mean you have to win, only that you must do your very best. That should be the measure and criterion behind a healthy perspective when it comes to winning and losing.
My thoughts anyway—what are yours?