“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” — Pat Riley
In the series Friday Night Lights first season, episode 12, Smash has fallen for a new girl. She likes him too, but is playing a little hard to get. This is difficult for him, as he is used to being pursued. She finally comes over, ready to pour attention on him at the state fair.
They are watching an arm wrestling competition and Smash announces he will take on the defending champ as the girl is trying to talk to him.
While he is distracted by a need to win inside him, she leaves frustrated already questioning if he can support anything but his own ego.
After winning the match, Smash remembers she was there and looks out for her, but she is long gone. His competitive need to win a short term arm wrestling contest caused him to miss an opportunity at building a lasting relationship with her. Something he really wanted all along.
The need to win brought a blind spot turning him away, while she was asking a question that was important to her.
I see evidence of this all the time. I have felt the impact of it from others my entire life.
Also, I’ve felt the pain when I do it myself, leaving someone else feeling less than.
One of my Facebook friends recently posted this experience.
On the highway, dude in front of me is going 5 under. I go around him and I am 5 over. Dude speeds up and goes around me, and we both take the next exit 500 ft later 🤷♀️🤷♀️🤷♀️ wtf
“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” — George Steinbrenner
Accelerator or Brake?
Have you ever noticed how much more fun it is to push on the accelerator?
You may also have noticed how much more relaxing it is to tap the break and let them pass. Get in behind the car in front of you before exiting instead of trying to race ahead.
You may just be changing a built in behavior that will save your life.
In his book, The Cost of Winning, Dean Hughes writes,
“I’m certain that He is going to ask me a very different set of questions from the ones the world asks me. It seems important, during life, to ‘win’ at all sorts of contest: better job, bigger house, more important church calling, children with greater achievements. But I think the Lord will want to know whether I was kind and humble and whether I looked out for people in need.”
Remember the ice skater Tonya Harding? She was so intent on winning at any cost, she decided to enroll people to injure her rival skating friend Nancy Karrigan.
On January 6, 1994, Kerrigan was attacked after practice in Detroit at the Cobo Arena. Creating what would become one of the biggest sports scandals in history.
Harding’s husband at the time and another man, one of her bodyguards, attacked Kerrigan targeting one of her legs around the knee with a metal club.
Fierce competition, the lust for power, fame and fortune were motivations behind hurting Kerrigan. Stranger than fiction actions carried out by a crew of amateur criminals, inspired by a need to win without the normal hard work and training involved.
That is to say, even if Harding had championship talent in her at all. Maybe she knew she didn’t and crime was the answer, completely discounting care or respect of another human being.
Many of you may remember how it turned out, clearly the opposite of what the perpetrators had hoped for. Maybe if Harding would have overcome her own jealously, she could have focused her energies in the proper place and become the champion she so desired to be.
The Competition is Where The Gold Is
Although my school years, I was involved in a variety of sports. Football, Softball, Baseball, Basketball, Dodge-ball, Golf, Track, Tennis and ultimately Pole Vaulting.
Early on in 6th grade, I noticed how players on the other team were trying to literally injure me. Seriously, like kicking me a few extra times after tackling me as I lay on the ground.
It was not long before I decided it wasn’t for me. A real possibility would exist in later years for me to get up and finish the fight they were starting. I knew there was no way for that to end well.
The very next year, we moved to a rough Chicago suburb and I made the Basketball team. Thinking Basketball was a kinder gentler sport, I was surprised when the Chicago African American boys also tried to injure myself and other players. Even members of their own squad in an attempt to insure playing time for themselves.
Even in Baseball the pitcher would aim at my head purposely sending me diving for the dirt, then laugh.
What was all this aggression about, I wondered.
The spectators and referees all seemed to want it as well, very confusing for a young man like me. As I matured, realization came, there was a choice available to me.
Still wanting to stay active, perform, develop and compete, I searched for a more solitary sport.
One where I could compare results with others, but being injured, or not would be in my
I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it. — Walt Disney
Dropping the Need to Win
The decision made back then turned out to be the one I still make today. As a matter of fact, I’ve designed my entire life around it.
Here is a shot from my High School Yearbook, middle spread while I run down the track to make a pole vault jump.
No player could come running in and try to break my leg anymore.
In this activity it’s just me, the track, that pole and my own ability.
How I finish is a mix of innate athleticism, knowledge, practice, and training.
If I immerse myself in all those, letting go of a need to win or be right, great results will show up from the presence I am now bringing to the now.
An artist is somebody who enters into competition with God. — Patti Smith
Creating A Life Free of the Need to Be Right
Even after the decision to avoid snorting testosterone laden men playing sports, they still continued to show up in my proximity.
Making me wrong to the boss, even being willing to punch me out if I said something they took issue with. One guy went at me so hard not really thinking it through and got himself fired. Turns out the boss saw my value and really liked me. Go figure.
A decade after my high school sporting decision a realization arrived informing me to bring that same decision to my working life.
That’s when I chose to begin working as a stringer in photo journalism. Just me, a camera and the subject. What could go wrong?
And Later on the Story Remained the Same
I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create. — William Blake
Yes, unfortunately human beings continued to come at me with judgements and righteousness in the working world.
It was then, just in the last decade that I realized the need to keep adapting. Making a commitment to creating a life free from the constraints of others as much as is possible. Inventing a space where I can make and share what I want, letting the consumers of that content decide.
No need to win, instead now in a continuous mindset to be of service, helping others get what they want.
My mind now wonders to something the Founder of EST and Landmark Education once said, after enduring decades of the same treatment I am speaking of in this writing.
An interviewer asked him what he has learned in all his dealings and turmoil, he replied, “I’ve learned that I can do whatever I want, with or without the good opinion of other people.”
To that I say, amen Warner Erhard!
Until next time! Cheers, Christopher.
©℗®™Copyright Christopher Boswell 2020 All rights reserved.
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When Christopher isn’t writing from home, he can be found traveling or capturing photographs somewhere in the United States. He loves to generate Graphic Design, process images or video, and flying his Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. More pastimes include wrangling dogs, backpacking and kayaking. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. Find out more at www.RealWindowCreative.com.