Winning Isn’t Anything, There’s Another Thing

(The title is a play on the Vince Lombardi Quote “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing“)

Gotta be quick. I’m helping my son study for his trimester exams.

One thing that we do is make use of the practice questions on the Khan Academy website. With each question, we see who can get the correct answer first. For most of my life, I haven’t been a big fan of competition, because of the way my parents and their families used it. My son and I have fun, but we are modest if we win and enthusiastically complimentary for the other when they win.

With my parents and their families, board games, card games and so on were torturous things to be a part of. More likely than not, an argument would break out and everyone would be scrutinizing the rule book that came with the game. They would fight over interpretations of the rules, at times just about coming to blows. In addition, you always had to watch everyone else, because everyone always tried to cheat. It wasn’t about family time or enjoying being together, but about winning. They lived the pathetic “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t trying” motto way before I ever heard anyone say it.

With my son, neither he, nor I know who got the most correct. Neither of us care. Both of us treasure these times together. If there’s some discrepancy, we both want to defer to the other rather than badger and rage for our own “victory.” We laugh. We cheer. We fist bump and high five. We grow closer to each other and build a life together.

Competitions are about challenging ourselves to a higher level of personal excellence:  “winning” or “losing” doesn’t matter, only the achievement of personal excellence. From this perspective, a “loss” is just as valid as a “win.” Competitions are also about challenging and encouraging others to achieve their own personal excellence, so it doesn’t matter whether they “win” or “loose” either.

With my parents and their families, the “winner” was a lonely figure who was hated and loathed by everyone else. From those stupid board games, there was endless screaming and backstabbing in the ensuing days as they took their grievances over a game into every day life. I never saw the value or benefit of it. It only made everyone in the family hate and hurt each other more.

In the end I always wondered who actually “won.” To be honest, it seemed to me that everyone lost.

Gotta go. Our break is over and we’re going to…”compete” again!

Be Well, My Friends


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