Not all things are as they appear. For instance, sometimes we pour ourselves into things expecting certain results… only to discover that we were misinformed about where to put our energy. The pursuit of tall trophies is like that – an empty illusion.
Let’s look at Sarah and what she learned about the illusion of being a winner. Sarah thought winners were people who had tall trophies, shiny medals, and blue ribbons. When she looked at the mantel at her house and saw she didn’t have any, she thought she must be a… well, she didn’t want to say the “L” word but she worried that it must be true. The harder she tried to win at anything – school, sports, or music – she always came up empty handed. Then one day her dad suggested that perhaps she was looking in the wrong place and working the wrong way. “What do you mean? I always try hard to win.” she said. Her dad replied, “Instead of looking at the mantel and always comparing yourself to others, try looking in the mirror and compare yourself only to you.” Then he gave her a new definition of winning that changed everything. “Winning is ending each day being a little better than you were that morning.” That’s all it is.
Sarah’s dad understood an important truth: If you make a tiny bit of progress every single day, and end that day better than you were that morning, you are winning. And if you are winning, day after day, you must be a winner. It’s all about daily progress. When children become gritty learners – the kind that never give up – they are winning every day. What the world calls losing is actually just feedback. It’s fuel for learning.
For example, winning could mean studying for a test better than you did yesterday. Or being more patient with your family today than you were yesterday; Or being more organized than you were yesterday; Or covering your man better than you did in last week’s game; or watching the ball better than yesterday. It’s always about competing with yourself…with YOUR previous best. In every case learning is taking place. And those who learn the most end up winning the most. The hidden paradox is that winning is a by-product…a fortunate outcome – not the primary goal for gritty learners.
Winning is actually the inevitable outcome of beating your own personal best day after day. And a trophy is just a symbol of your victory over self-doubt, fear, and laziness. Sarah liked the idea of competing against herself. She believed she could beat her best over and over again, and then she’d let the trophies just show up on their own. Using this approach, it would be impossible to be a loser!
Teach your children to take the pressure off themselves about winning trophies. Instead of comparing themselves to others, teach them to focus on ending each day a little better than they were that morning. Gritty learners feel like winners every day!