As a competitive athlete who has built a business memorializing competitive events for other athletes, I think a lot about winning.
Not just in the sense of ‘how’ to win – though I certainly do think about that – but about what it means to compete, and what exactly constitutes “winning”.
In a very real sense, “winning” is wired into us from an evolutionary standpoint: competition for food, competition for a mate, competition to survive, – these are instinctual drives for which "winning" could have life or death stakes.
It’s no surprise that parts of our brain still light up when we ‘win’, whether that comes by scoring a tie-breaking point, placing in a field of competitors, or receiving a professional award.
Yet some of us thrive on competition more than others; we are born competitors. We look at different activities as opportunities to push ourselves – competitive or extreme sports, or even a sales challenge or fund-raising drive at work. We enjoy competition and always strive to win.
And whether it’s a first-place win or just a personal ‘best’, there’s something deeply exhilarating and validating about competing successfully.
What separates die-hard competitors from those who are more laid-back?
Honestly, I don’t know. A personality test I took many years ago listed me as a type that “enjoys all kinds of competitions and always strives to win.”
That much is true; certainly I like to compete, and to that end, I work hard to be the best I can at those things I compete in. And because I strive to give my all when I compete, every event is a “win”.
The race medals I’ve earned are concrete testimonials to my efforts; when I look at them, I’m brought back to the event - the challenge, the camaraderie, the sheer joy of giving everything I’ve got.
Framing and displaying them serves to remind me of those wins and celebrates them.
And that’s what they are, from finisher to first-place, and everything in between – they’re all wins.
After all, who doesn’t like to win?
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