Are You Winning in the Right Places?
by Karl Newman (Reposted from April 2014)
My hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl this past year and more than 700,000 people flooded downtown Seattle for the victory parade. Keep in mind there are only 635,000 residents in the entire city and they’re not all football fans. That means a significant number of the metro area’s 3.5 million residents took a day off work, skipped school or otherwise changed their plans to come out in 31 degree weather on a Wednesday to celebrate.
Why did they do this? Many of these fans didn’t buy a ticket to a game all season, much less catch a pass or deliver a crushing tackle, yet they braved cold weather, zero parking and a fanatical crowd of revelers to be part of the action.
Why? Because people want to win. We’re hard-wired for it. When our team wins, we feel like we won too. We’ll never put the trophy on our mantle or see a championship bonus check arrive in the mail but we feel like a winner by association.
My son’s T-ball league official policy dictated no score-keeping, but he and his 8-year-old teammates always checked in with the parents to see how they were doing. “Are we winning? What’s the score?” They had to know.
The desire to win is not just about sports, but true for all of life. Studies show that without at least the hope of succeeding or progressing in life, depression and de-motivation set in.
We all want to succeed and win and we do it in many different ways. Some aspire to get promoted at work, succeed in business or run for elected office. Others invest time in leading a youth group, organizing a neighborhood cleanup or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Still others compete in adult softball leagues, bet it all on the lottery or spend endless hours defeating virtual enemies in video games like Halo or Call of Duty.
So here’s a key question: are you winning in the right places? Do the activities that give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction also line up with reaching your goals and dreams?
If you satisfy your need to win in areas that don’t lead to accomplishing your own goals for long-term significance, you are robbing yourself of the energy, time and mental/emotional bandwidth you need to truly win in the ways that matter most.
There is no question that taking time to rejuvenate and to serve and give to others is important. Very important, in fact. However, doing those things instead of doing the often harder work of pushing through the inevitable obstacles, challenges and setbacks on the way to achieving what really matters to you is another thing entirely.
Doing what is good can be the enemy of achieving what is great. It’s easy to catch yourself wasting time. It’s much harder to see when you are doing good things to avoid the sometimes painful process of doing great things.
Make sure you are winning in the right places. Take a moment to ask yourself where you are investing your time and creative energy. If the answers don’t line up with your goals and dreams, realign your priorities. Allocate your resources toward achieving your destiny and leaving a lasting legacy. At the end of your life, when you look back on what you’ve accomplished, you’ll be glad you did.