~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Last Saturday, I needed to deliver a check to my friend Dave for an upcoming charity golf tournament.
I called him that morning to see if he would be home so I could stop his house while I was out running some errands. He explained that he and his two girls were just leaving to go to a soccer game but that he would certainly be at the park for several hours if I wanted to meet him there.
The park was located in an upscale area of town and although there were several soccer games being played simultaneously, I quickly found Dave among the many spectators assembled.
Dave was watching the game intently as both of his girls were currently playing.
"So what’s the score"? I asked.
He replied, "This is the peewee league so they don’t keep score".
"Oh it’s the peewee league", I said in a mocking tone, "so what’s the score?"
"It’s 7 to 6... we’re losing", he said in a hush.
And with that, one of the girls scored a goal...
"Now it’s tied", he said with a grin.
Shortly thereafter, the team scored another unanswered goal and the crowd went wild. From this observation, I suspected that there was more than one parent at the game who was indeed keeping score.
In the end, Dave’s girls’ team lost the contest.
As the girls were shaking hands with their opponents, I asked Dave why this league didn’t officially keep score.
He went on to explain that many of the parents didn’t like the concept of "winners and losers". They reasoned that "losing" hurt the girl’s self-esteem and that they wanted to promote the concept of fitness over competition.
I gave Dave one of those "looks"... at which point he threw up his hands and smirked, non-verbally acknowledging the absurdity of the answer he just gave me.
I thought to myself, "This is America... he home of capitalism... where we crown winners and scorn losers... why the hell would we outlaw competition??!!"
By banning measured competition, we are doing great damage to our children by ill-preparing them for the future that lies before them.
Self-esteem is not built by "not losing"... self-esteem is built by teaching a person that rigorously preparing ourselves for competition and giving our best effort knowing that there is indeed an outcome.
Sometimes we’ll win and other times we’ll lose.
If we prepared ourselves and still lost... then we should feel bad... because losing sucks.
Losing should cause us great internal pain and suffering... not because of any humiliation or loss of self-esteem... but rather because we care so much about winning that it hurts us when we fail.
The desire to win should drive us to become better...more determined...better prepared...more focused on creating a better outcome.
Losing is often a blessing as it motivates us to try harder.
In contrast, winning all the time can become a curse.
I’ve seen this happen to many people born with innate talents.
People who developed a bit quicker than the other children, received better coaching or had access to superior resources.
They were the big men on campus...they received artificially high marks in school through "parental assistance"... or perhaps they were voted "most likely to succeed", homecoming queen, or student body president by their peers.
For them, winning was easy... too easy in fact...
They rested on their laurels and made a conscience decision to stop working so hard (or maybe they never learned to work hard in the first place but simply relied on their talents).
Winning is fleeting.
One day, we’re on top... the next day, those former losers, who have found motivation to work harder, have taken our position.
Now don’t get me wrong... there are a lot of positive aspects of winning.
Winning helps to breed confidence. We’ve conquered the mountain once so we know that it can be done.
For the centuries up until 1954, no runner had ever run a mile under 4 minutes.
Many people, including many scientists, concluded that the human body was incapable of running this fast for such an extended distance.
On May 6, 1954, Englishman Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mark on the track at Oxford University proving to the world that the sub 4-minute mile could be accomplished.
Six weeks later, Australian John Landy broke Bannister’s record and within a 3- years’ time, 24 people had successfully broken the 4-minute mark.
Once people had the confidence that it could be done...they just went out and did it.
Confidence helps us to seek out new challenges and formulate new dreams and aspirations.
It allows us to walk on a wire high above the ground without a net to catch us should we fall.
When we believe that we can do it because we have prepared ourselves for success that is confidence.
Confidence is built over time from setting and attaining small goals and building upon those successes to push the limits of our achievements.
Confidence should never be confused with courage.
Whereas confidence is the lack of fear and the absolute faith that you will succeed...courage is not the lack of fear but rather going forward despite of it...
Courage has seen failure and the pain it can bring. It allows us to begin our journey anew and continue down the path regardless of the dangers and perils.
The confident person will give it a try because they believe they can do it...
...but the courageous person will try again and again and again to be successful... each time, learning from past mistakes.
Courage is built upon developing mental toughness and a will to succeed no matter what it takes.
Over the long haul...courage will always triumph over confidence
When we eliminate score keeping...we remove any possibility of losing and with that, the lessons of resiliency (as well as the possibility of winning to build confidence)
We’re teaching our children that success doesn’t really matter... it’s not the results that matter but rather the process.
However we live in a world where competition abounds... where scarcity still prevails... and where winners still rule...
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we might not always win... but we always keep trying.