Posted by: MarlaHB | March 5, 2013

Sometimes Winning Must be Found on the Inside

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.  George Orwell

Competition is an opportunity to really learn about yourself. What are you made of? As a parent, competition also provides teaching moments. Because, as life would have it, not every “win” is going to be easily visible in terms of a perfect grade or a gold medal. Sometimes, you have to dig deep inside to see it.

There’s a sense that, if you train hard, play hard, have a positive attitude and everyone else on the team does the same, a win is deserved. It’s your right even. Life doesn’t always go that way. So we might as well find other ways to measure our success – and teach our kids how to measure theirs.

Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself. Paul Bryant

My daughter had a soccer tournament this past weekend. Every game was tough – and the final scores tight. The team had only one loss out of five games – but it hurt. Because to win it would have put them in the gold medal round. And their team was skilled enough to earn it. As it turned out, one goal in the final minutes meant they would be playing for bronze.

On a personal level, watching my daughter compete reminded me that I have a nasty side that I’m not proud of. Like a momma lion, I was fierce on the sidelines. My harsh and critical side came to the surface and there was little sign of good sportsmanship at times. I wanted her to win – tangibly win – a higher score and a spot in the championship game.

As all of that was going on, I did notice it. And I remember thinking how grateful I was that she couldn’t see me this way. After all, I would never want to encourage the same in her. It’s important to be a positive role model! Awareness is golden.

We always learn more from the losing than the winning.  Yani Tseng

After the loss, we had a chance to talk about finding the inner win. Did you do your best? Did you leave it all out on the field? Did you try to do something new or differently? Did the team work well together? Did you show leadership? Recognizing that there are only certain things we can control is important. Those are the wins that we can always claim.

A ball taking a bounce in an undesired direction or a rarely missed kick are things we can’t really control. If the final results are only based on those “uncontrollables”, it’s not reflective of the whole story. Yes, it’s easy to see the black and white kinds of wins. But they’re not the only kind.

Another type of measuring stick exists. The better we are able to see the inner wins, perhaps the more confident we will be. Maybe it’s even more authentic than a shiny gold medal.

In the end, the team won bronze. My daughter beamed taking away a public win. Now, she proudly hangs the medal in her room. What I’m most proud of though, is the inner win that probably would not have come without that gold medal qualifying loss.

You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.  Arthur Ashe

Character building and authenticity can be the real goals of the game (no matter what game you are playing in life). Sometimes a win is easily visible. Sometimes it’s not. It’s a matter of how you choose to see it and how deep you’re willing to look. Most often, your real win will be found on the inside.



  1. What a great reminder to focus on what we can control in challenging life situations! My life doesn’t involve competitive sports, but I will apply these ‘inner win measuring sticks’ at the workplace and in migrating troubled family relationships. I love this feeling of empowerment!

    • That’s it exactly Dianne – when we do not rely on others for our self-worth and confidence, we are authentically powerful. Thanks for your comment!

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