June 17th, 2016 by Marie Dershem
Growing up, we get a lot of mixed messages about winning. Of course, there is the beloved truth, “It isn’t important whether we win or lose, it is HOW we play the game.” But, if you watch the sidelines and listen to fans, that isn’t the message they are sending. While good sportsmanship gets some press once in a while, winning always gets the headlines.
So, HOW do YOU play the game?
In the world of cycling, teams work together to get one of their teammates on the podium… the coveted podium… the winner’s pedestal. But, usually, only one teammate, if any, gets a podium spot. Even though that one person represents a team effort, that one person gets the glory. That can be a hard pill to swallow if the “glory” is the end goal… or if winning has only one definition – and that is to personally beat the competition.
Who is really the winner? How is winning defined? As we get older and (hopefully) wiser, winning becomes personal. It becomes something we have to define for ourselves. It has less to do with competitors and more to do with our own internal competitive drive and desire. We move from competing with others for the win to competing within ourselves to put our best selves out there at every race and event. We are not defined by how many podium spots we earned, but by how hard we worked individually, how well we worked with the team, and how much we learned along the way.
Winning, then, is more about character and strength than glory and podiums. No doubt, every team strives for the podium… we are athletes, after all. Of course we like to see tangible evidence of our hard work. But, if this defines success for the team, disappointment will result, individuals will become frustrated and resentful, and the team will fall apart. However, if success is defined by hard work, great teamwork, and true enjoyment of the sport, then everyone wins. A podium spot is just icing on the cake.
I’m so thankful to be surrounded by winners in the sport of cycling.
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