Winning. Among other misnomers.


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Winning had always been my goal in life. The game, the players, the prize – none of it mattered except to win. When I was a little kid I wanted to be the best at everything (I could play house like nobody’s business) and when I didn’t meet these arbitrary standards of success at whatever I was doing I usually quit. It didn’t matter how much I loved the activity (piano, vocal lessons, gymnastics, violin, soccer, baseball, volleyball, sewing, basketball, guitar, drawing…) — I couldn’t keep up with my ever broadening expectations to be amazing at everything immediately.

All my life I vied for number one like it was my job. Because I thought it was.

I internalized the social pressure to be the best because it seemed the number ones were the only ones getting praised. Wasn’t it about getting picked first for the dodge-ball team in PE? Wasn’t it about class rank in high school? And on and on…That saying, “If you’re not first, you’re last” really shook me to my core. If I was going anywhere in life, I was going to get there by out climbing others to the top.

What a shitty way to live.

Eventually I had to wake up. I was never going to be the best at everything (the shock!). And I learned didn’t have to be (thanks, yoga). I had to give up the life-consuming myth…

Myth: I will never succeed at life unless I’m perfect at everything.

This is the kind of thinking mine shaft I still fall into when I haven’t slept enough.

Truth: Standards of perfection like standards of success are relative and self directed.

I get to decide if I’m succeeding by creating my own standards of success.

If I let go of the outmoded standards of  rank or income, I have to choose other metrics. Years ago I decided that being happy was above all the best measure of success. To that end I now constantly view my world through what’s going well rather than what am I not doing well.

The game of winning is really a misnomer. It should be called ‘vying for self-growth’ (or something sexier and more succinct).  To me, the game of competition and achievement is really a self imposed game of will and skill. It’s about gaining competence in something I love and going for expertise. It’s about reaching beyond my comfort zone for what’s next in my life trajectory. It’s about overcoming fears, managing insecurities and taking risks. That’s real winning.

Life’s a game. Play to win. 😉




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