“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” – Vince Lombardi
“Losing feels worse than winning feels good.” – Vin Scully
“Winning is the most important thing in life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” – George Steinbrenner
“Winning solves everything.” – Tiger Woods
“The person that said winning isn’t everything, never won anything.” – Mia Hamm
A few years ago, I got really into road cycling. I had just moved to Vancouver, Canada, and didn’t know anyone. I joined an existing team of long-distance riders who were riding 250km from Vancouver to Seattle in 2-days, raising money for childhood cancer research. As a childhood cancer survivor, I thought this charitable incentive would be just the super motivator I needed to try my hand at an endurance sport. It was.
I didn’t have the world’s best gear, but I had some decent name brand stuff. Honestly, I didn’t think that my love for cycling was going to be anything more than a sweaty charitable pursuit, so what I had was just fine. Plus, some people did the race on dirt bikes – seriously, they are the real heroes – that shit is insane!
What I discovered during that first race was that I was truly, humbly, passionately hooked! Taking in the life of each moment around me, as my muscles savagely burned for more. Longer distances. New challenges. Higher climbs. Two weeks after finishing the 250km charity ride, I signed up for the GranFondo Whistler. Hands down one of the coolest things I have done to date – and the views were stupid awesome! Plus, I got to see them on a bike!!
As I came back to the reality of my life after the GranFondo, I was thoroughly bummed by the conversations that ensued. All anyone wanted to know was my race time. How quickly had I finished? What place did I get? What was my pace?
I literally had no idea. I hadn’t even thought about it once. Until now. And when I looked it up…I was beside myself and not in a good way. What ensued was an internal dialogue that is hard to admit. Utter embarrassed. I was a fraud. I had no place on that course, let alone calling myself a long-distance rider! I wanted to crawl under a rock and hoped everyone would forget so that I didn’t have to admit my beyond sub-par race time. My time was honestly worse than one of my friend’s 60+ year old dad who was just pleased to finish.
In a hot second, one of the highlights of my life became a crushing defeat…
And then luckily in another hot second, I realized that life isn’t just about winning. In fact, I didn’t want my life to be only about winning. But if I was not going to win, then why put myself through the pain of racing, training, cramping, dry heaving, and dehydration? If I was not going to win, then why do anything?
We each have to answer that question for ourselves. Because it’s different for all of us. Even if you are used to winning there will be times when we don’t win. As we age, the things we were once the BEST at will start to fade. Then what? We definitely will not win at everything (unless we are Michael Phelps).
So, why do we do anything if most of the time we are guaranteed not to win? For me, it is about…
- experiencing new adventures
- seeing new heights
- feeling myself do things that I thought I might not be able to ever do
- looking fear in the face and saying, “let’s see what you got?!”
- feeling alive
- building trust in myself
- feeling super human and totally human at the exact same time
- being willing to experience the highest highs that life has to offer - sometimes through the most crushing defeats and connecting with others who are willing to do the same.
So, how about you? Where in your life are you not doing something because you might not win? Or are you only doing something for the win? What if winning isn’t the point? Would you still do it if you knew you wouldn’t win? Why?
Enjoying the ride!