I am a big college football fan. I love the atmosphere that comes along with every Saturday- the game, the schools, and the die-hard fans. It usually doesn’t matter the team or the game; I love watching college rivals compete on the the football field. This past week’s National Championship game did not disappoint. It was a great game between two outstanding teams, both with excellent coaches. I will admit, I always feel a little bad for the players and coaches of the losing team. As the game ends, you can see the hurt and disappointment on their faces, and in their body language. Both teams have work extremely hard, both teams have dedicated countless hours, both teams have sacrificed a great deal to get to the final game. But, in the end, it is a game and someone has to win and someone has to lose- it’s why you play the game.
As I think about this disappointment and the effort that goes into a successful season, I am reminded how important it is to focus on “YOUR” BEST, rather than “THE” BEST. Only one team will ultimately win the championship each year. Does that mean that all the other teams seasons were failures? If our goals are set in being perfect — always being first, winning all the games, or winning the championship every time — we are setting ourselves up for failure. Winning to me is about always doing YOUR BEST, rather than being THE BEST.
I have learned that the joy that comes with winning never lasts as long as the sting of a defeat. We live in a world where there is so much focus and attention placed on “the best.” Losing holds a stigma that is hard to shake. We watch athletes have great careers, but if they never when a championship many might consider them a failure. If we win, we feel that is just what is expected, but if we lose, we beat ourselves up about the loss over and over again. A win is a win, but a loss gets replayed over and over in our heads turning instances and happenings into much more than what they actually were. I do not believe there is anything wrong with striving to be the best, in fact I love the attitude that accompanies the work ethic of someone with this mentality. But, there is something wrong with putting your self worth in being the best. Technically, only one team/person in each field can be the best, but this does not mean everyone else is a failure.
I see the same thing happen in our classrooms and schools. Students are disappointed if they don’t get the best grade on the test, or end up ranked number two in their class. Instead of focusing on giving their best attitude and effort to each situation, and being pleased with the final outcomes, they only focus on being the best and struggle with the outcome if they are not. Sometimes, even when you give everything you have to a task, you still do not end of up on top. We lose, we fall short, we miss the mark… we need to remember, that even in misses or missed opportunities, lessons are learned that are exactly what we needed to be taught at the time. Our best, sets us up for the next success and the successes after that. The best is an end goal that once you reach, leaves you looking for something else to chase. Giving your best day in and day out can take you to places you never thought you would reach.
If you can show up each day and honestly say you gave YOUR BEST, you are a winner. No matter who you are or where you are, giving your best is what matters. You should only allow yourself to feel that bitter sting of losing if you do not, or did not, give it your all. Losing lies in not trying, not committing, and not putting in the effort needed to reach your dreams.
As you move into this new year, take an honest look at yourself, your dreams, and the effort you are putting into achieving those dreams. Do they align? Are you giving YOUR BEST? If you are, then you are winner in what really matters in life. If you are not there yet, decide how badly you want to reach the goals and outcomes you desire; then focus on giving YOUR BEST each day. You will be amazed how far this will take you!