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The Winning Isn’t Everything, It’s the Only Thing, Myth!
This quote has haunted me throughout my coaching years, and I suspect I’m not alone. If you’re reading this and don’t know where this quote came from, I’ll give you some background. The saying “Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing” has been attributed for more than 45 years to the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers football team, the man for whom the Super Bowl is named; the great Vince Lombardi. News flash: he never said it; what he said is that “winning is not everything, but wanting to win is.” The misquote was taken from a black-and-white Hollywood production starring John Wayne and Donna Reed called Trouble in the Road (Warners Brothers 1953), a story in which Wayne is a coach and a single parent with his daughter. is playing at a private Catholic college, and Donna Reed, a social worker, is concerned about the child. In the film, the game is played as Donna Reed and the little girl stand in the stands watching the scene. The scene moves between shots of Duke on the sidelines playing and firing his team, then to several priests waving school colors, and finally to Donna Reed and a little girl, about 10-12 years old. old Donna Reed explains to the girl how she hopes the boys enjoy the game and give it their all or something when the girl responds with the line….”Well you know what daddy (so-and-so etc.) always says….”Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” This line from a Hollywood production was taken from the mouth of a 10-year-old fictional character. Some have attributed this line to Vince Lombardi (some say, because of his religious affiliation with the Catholic Church) and he spent the rest of his life righting the wrong with sports commentators and writers until his last days.
I suspect, like many others, that this mentality that winning is the only thing dominates many coaches and parents when it comes to athletic competition and when our kids, our school team, or we don’t win every competition. so there must be something wrong. Is it possible that there is something else to be gained that neither I, the parent, nor I, the coach, can understand in my moment of temporary defeat? It is this notion of winning all the time that is so ingrained in our society that we do all kinds of things, including ignoring our own higher sense of self, to achieve it. Sometimes, we’re willing to do “whatever it takes,” even if it’s not the right thing to do. Still confused? Of course you do because, unfortunately, when we get rid of the idea that “winning is everything” we have to look elsewhere for the real purpose of these competitions. In searching, the answer I discovered is not in my head. It’s really in the heart with a capital H, and I’ll get back to that in a minute.
If you look at wins and losses, the fact of the matter is that every time you go on the field, your chances are 50/50. It’s a simple truth, the world as we understand it is made up of opposites, hot vs cold, top vs bottom, winner vs loser, etc. everything in creation is a dual world. In fact, you can’t experience one without the other. Imagine living with only daylight? Only darkness? One compliments the other. There is no joy without sorrow. Without an opponent, we cannot play. So how do we act in this world of ambiguity? Furthermore, where do we focus to succeed instead of fail? In addition, more about how we participate in sports competitions? The answer lies in our heightened sense of self. There is a greater part of us that knows how to take all this duality and see it for what it is and what it is not. We are not the only winners or losers in this game! We are the creators of our own destiny. And depending on how we observe and observe the actions of our own thoughts and the emotions they create, we can see the good in winning and losing. We can experience both the good and the bad of winning and losing and not forget our true selves. This is not a new concept, Eastern forms of competition have taught this for thousands of years; they even refer to their sport as an “art”, as in martial arts. Their goals are not to destroy or destroy their opponents, but to honor, respect and love them. It is a realization that an artist without a competitor cannot show the skills he has mastered. Competition is based on both competitors showing their best, giving 100% and enjoying the opportunity to compete. It is not in winning or losing, but in competition that the athlete/artist is able to demonstrate his skill level. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi’s famous quote, “Winning is not everything, but the desire to win is.” A very subtle but powerful difference from victory is the only thing. This difference is in the power of our attention and intention. Why participate in any activity if you’re not going to do it to the best of your ability? Our intention should always be to try our best to win or succeed, but if we don’t get results on any given day, we don’t take it personally. We do our best, learn from our mistakes, and improve as we grow. I have a personal motto that goes like this: “Make it personal; don’t take it personal.” What I mean by that is that I want to do the best I can, I want to make it my personal job to give it my all, and at the same time remember that if I succeed or fail , it’s not your business. a true reflection of who I really am, it’s just the result of my best efforts at the time.
I remember several times in my coaching career and parenting career when my son and I both learned a lesson during his days as a flag football player. One season he was called up to a team that could not win a single game. He was complaining on our way home and at one point he told me he didn’t want to play anymore. I understood his pain, having been there myself as a coach and a player, but I also knew that there would be a price to go on and do what he had set out to do. After much discussion and persuasion on my part, he agreed to finish the season and give it his all regardless of the score in any game. His team never won a game in the regular season, but a small miracle happened. When it came time for the playoffs, his team was able to win two of the most important games of the year. That’s right; they won the semi-finals and the championship games. I used the opportunity to point out to my son that if he refused, he would miss out on becoming a hero. We also discussed how you never know how things will turn out if you stick to your commitments and promises and only give your best.
Earlier I mentioned a Hollywood movie that created a very dangerous and unrealistic concept. Hollywood has also produced some very amazing and wonderful stories to inspire us as well. I recently watched another movie about football, Friday Night Lights. It’s all about the highly competitive game of Texas high school football. The best part of that scene was in the locker room at halftime of the “big game,” when coach Gary Gaines talks about “Being Perfect,” the team’s context for the season. He starts by telling the players to forget what’s on the pitch, forget about winning, and just get back on the field to win everything, give everything for each other and do it with love in to do their hearts out. , and a sense of joy to play. He tells them how much he loves each one of them and sets an example for them of what he hopes they will learn… If they play as hard as they can, and for all the right reasons, the final grade is not their reward; will be the feeling they leave. We are all looking for the answer that we find in our hearts with a capital letter H. This is the true answer. In the game of football or the game of life, if we play our best, give our best and love what we do, no matter what the scoreboard says, there will only be winners and champions. Game play is key for all the right reasons.
Finding and understanding the right reasons for competition was and is the biggest challenge I face every day, no matter what my role. I live in this world of ambivalence and nature; I prefer only half of what makes up my perception of reality. I just want to win, I just want to be happy, etc. The problem is that the more attached I am to what I want, the more attached I am to the opposite. Reality is a double-edged sword. The answer to this conundrum is not to get attached to it, but to play with your heart, not your head. You see, it is your head and your soul that sees and experiences duality, and it is your head that creates preferences based on all the information it has gathered over a lifetime of living in this opposite world. It is your head that takes the winnings and losses personally; your heart on the other hand just goes with the flow of feeling joy and the love of just playing. It’s love that keeps you coming back to the game – time and time again – whether you’re winning or losing. In other words, Love is not everything… it is the only thing. Winning is a happy outcome.
A few years ago when I was an assistant coach at the high school level; I was listening to our head coach talk to the players during halftime of a varsity basketball game. He told them that to win, they have to work hard, play smart, have fun and do it together. I found this to be very good advice. And as I listened to him talk about these ideas, it dawned on me that something else must be present before someone is willing to put in all the hard work necessary to win. The reason we become real winners and champions in sports and life is mainly because apart from dedication to hard work, playing smart, having fun, etc. – we have to really love what we are doing.
If we love what we’re doing, it’s easier to put in the work, bounce back from losses, and show the game over and over again. As it turns out, when you examine the minds and hearts of true heroes (whether in sports or in life), what you see and hear from them is how much they love. Whatever “it” is for them. All great champions have this reason to participate in their chosen endeavors. All great people have learned to play from the heart, using only their head as a compass – a tool to navigate their way to success. This is a valuable lesson that sports and competition have taught me. This is a valuable lesson we can teach our young athletes. “Winning isn’t everything – loving what you do means everything.”
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