The Will To Win.

Jul 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: abundance, Career advice, self confidence, success, will to win

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys to personal excellence. – Confucius

Do you have the will to win?

It may seem like a silly question. Why would you put so much time and energy into something if you do not have the will to win? However, we may be consciously or subconsciously undermining our efforts to win even though we think we are giving it our best effort.

Most of us are taught from an early age to give our best effort when we compete, or are we? There are a lot mixed messages floating around on the idea of winning, which may sink into out psyche and undermine our will to win.

If you grew up with other children, especially younger or smaller ones, you were most likely taught not to take advantage of them, and to let them win once in awhile. There seems to be an idea of fairness in winning. Do we sometimes let others win because it seems fair? Why do we let ourselves be convinced that our competitors deserve to win, and we don’t? We are not children anymore.

Many times I have overheard people say, even my parents, friends, and relatives, that so and so should win because: they worked so hard; or has been a long time since they won; or they would be the best choice; etc. etc. They would say these things even when I thought they should be in my corner. Perhaps I am too sensitive, but it made an impression, and weakened my will to win. Do you ever find yourself evaluating who deserves to win, instead of concentrating on doing your best?

Somehow the idea of deserving to win creeps into our minds. Sometimes we get undermining thoughts that our competitors are more deserving to win, or that we don’t deserve to win. I have had experiences when these thoughts flashed across my mind, and I physically felt my competitive spirit wane. Not to place blame, but I think it is part of my childhood experience. I did learn from this and never asked my kids to let their opponents win. I notice difference in their competitive attitudes. They are much less likely to just let someone win. I also praise them when they win, and do not belittle their victories or criticize their losses.

Social acceptance also may have a bearing on the will win. Although everyone says they like a winner, it is usually not when it is at their expense. I have several friends and acquaintances to whom winning means a lot, for some it is horse shoes, others it is pool, and of course there is golf, and the list goes on. Then there is work where friends and co-workers weigh in on almost every assignment and promotion, with who they think deserves it the most. Usually they make a strong case for themselves. Somehow these social influences creep into our minds and poison our competitiveness. In our conscious minds we think we are bringing our A game, but for some reason our A game is just a little off. A classic example of reinforcing the idea of social pressure affecting the will win occurred when I was first taking up golf. I mentioned to my neighbor (Paul) that I was starting to play golf. He said he would like to play too. It turned into a weekly outing of Paul, his two sons and me. None of us were very good, but I was the worst. Little by little my game improved and I started to whittle off a few more strokes every week. My goal was to win. I finally accomplished my goal; that was the last time Paul and sons played golf with me. It really sent me a message. I am convinced that no matter the competition, if there is social angle (both at work and play) it affects my will to win, even when I tell myself that I want to win.

Winning isn’t everything, or it is not worth the effort, are two favorite sayings of underachievers. This is often a cloak to hide the lack of skill, strength, or stamina to win. This sets the stage to say I could have won if I really wanted to. In other words you lost by choice. This tactic soothes the ego, and may become habit forming. Like taking pride in your potential to win, rather than actually developing the skill required to win. This attitude is like a shield that protects us from the dreaded “agony of defeat” “I could have won if I wanted to” rings across almost every field of competition.

So where does this leave us, those who on some level lack the will to win? Most of us through some effort and the law of averages manage to win often enough to advance our careers, and play socially acceptable games, but we are not truly competitive. We do not excel like the more competitive types with the so called “killer instinct. “ Are we destined to be a member of the pack, filler to fund the pots for the winners? Maybe so, but it does not have to be that way. Instead of thinking of winning or losing, concentrate on doing your best, and winning will become just a by-product of your effort. Perhaps instead of thinking of who should win, or the social consequences of winning, think only of doing your best and giving it a good effort. There is no need to be ruthless, or have a “killer instinct” to win. If you develop the skill, strength and stamina to win, and you try your best you will win. Confucius could have just as well said, “ Developing excellence is the key to winning. No one can fault you for that.

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