The trouble with winning


In which we explore why that winning feeling can cause you trouble...

I'm dreaming of warmer days and remembering last years short summer. Did you watch the World Cup Rugby? I'm not a sports fan in general but I love watching a final, almost any final, because it means watching the most skilled people at their peak performance in a high pressure situation. It's always a good watch.
My favourite bit of the 2015 rugby final was when New Zealand player, Beauden Barrett, ran so fast he over took everyone in order to kick the ball, then grab the ball again, all whilst running full pelt. He kicked the ball again in order to catch it and run for the line and there was a split second when his foot hit the ball when he knew he'd done it, that the ball was aimed exactly at his hands and while running at speed, all the training, coaching, expertise, fitness, everything, came together in the perfect move to bring the ball right into his hands at the moment he needed it most. At that precise moment of contact, the pressure was on, a huge proportion of the world was watching, his team depending on him, the match almost over, the opposition hot on his heels and my favourite moment was when he smiled the most beautiful smile in the world, the smile of someone who knew it was going to end well. He knew in that moment that it had all come together and that the ball would reach his hands, ready for the line, ready for the win. He carried on grinning as he hit the ground and dived for the try and secured their success but it was that earlier moment that struck me, the moment he knew it was coming, that all would be well.

Let's have a look at why winning feels so good, understand why losing feels so bad and why we react badly to doing well and not getting the recognition...

Come as you are...

We all have an ego. People often use the word ego to mean arrogance. When someone's ego is over-active, they might appear arrogant. But that's too small a part of the story.
Ego is actually the part of us that seeks recognition. If we didn't have it we wouldn't have the drive to create new things or to strive to be better. It's what helps us separate ourselves out from other people and makes us keep ourselves safe. So far so good. But as with everything, it's about balance. While we're busy striving for recognition, separating ourselves out from the crowd we're in danger relying on our activity - and other people's response to us - to give us a sense of whether we're ok.

When our ego is in the driving seat, we forget how amazing we already are. Without even going out and talking to anyone, you are an incredible human being.

You do something good and mostly, you get praised. Even if you don't get praise yourself, from an early age you see people succeeding and you hear other people saying good things about them. We're not often told that we are already amazing, just as we are. So we get trapped in a cycle of striving to be recognised for being clever, working hard, being funny or creative or whatever, in order to feel reassured that we're ok.

What we do to feel better...

So if we're not feeling a strong sense of our value and then even when we do something good, nobody praises our achievement, what do we do to feel ok about who we are?

Unfortunately we often do whatever we can to create a 'win'. If you're right and someone else is wrong, you get a buzz. You get a rush of 'everything is ok because I am right' and that leaves you feeling ok about who you are, your worth in the world.
You might like to think you don't do this, if you genuinely never ever do it, you need to be teaching that skill to others. What happens mostly is that we do this repeatedly, everyday of the week and we don't even notice it's happening.
We correct someone or criticise someone on the TV or internet, we talk about how someone thought x was true when surely everyone can see that y is true.
See if you notice when you do this and notice how it makes you feel. If you're pointing out a fact, for instance "Oh I think you'll find it on the 4th floor not the 5th" and know you're just providing information, you'll notice the difference, it's just about the facts. Compare it to "Why on earth would you think it's the 5th floor, I definitely know it's the 4th". The difference is that the first is about facts, the second is about winning. It makes you feel like you're ok in the world but it can easily become a habit, that to criticise and correct people is how you get your sense of worth in the world and feel better. It gets harder to feel you're ok the rest of the time.

Aren't we supposed to want to win?

Well yes, we are animals after all. Surely we are built to strive for more, to work to better things?

But it's all about balance.

Stay keen, stay motivated in what you want to achieve AND...

• Remind yourself 'whether I win or lose I'm ok'
• Someone else being right is OK
• Being wrong is OK
• It is what it is, none of this defines me or my worth
• What I do or say is my behaviour, it's not who I am
• All is well, whatever happens

Quick tip to try:

The next time someone gets something wrong but it doesn't really matter, don't correct them. Let it slide and see how it feels. You've missed out on a chance to win. And you lived to tell the tale. It's better for your health and better for relationships too!

If you do need to correct someone, do it with only the facts, no smugness or point scoring. And if it's merely a criticism, notice the temptation and don't go there, it's better for your health!

As I'm fond of saying, it's much easier to stop doing something if you replace it with something healthier and this is no exception. Each time you spot yourself playing that 'winning' game, repeat in your head,
"I'm ok and all is well" or whatever phrases remind you that you're already amazing and you don't need to win to feel that.

And if you’re actually competing in a competition...

Go for it!!

Be the best and go out there to win...know that if you've worked for it and you do the best performance you possibly can. If you win, it paid off.

If you lose, you are still amazing.

PS If you need a little reminder, have a look at my you tube video 'A right good talking to' - it's two minutes of boosting you back to where you should be

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