LOVE TO WIN / HATE TO LOSE
Answer this question:
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
During an interview over 2 years ago, I was asked that question. “Interesting query,” I internalized…(since I use the word query on the reg), while I frantically tried to process this simple yet complex question. I responded by saying, “Both. I love to win and I hate to lose.” The hiring manager challenged my answer and said, “You can’t chose both, you have to pick one.” “Well, I suppose I hate to lose then if I have to pick,” I replied.
Let me preface that this was one of the worst interviews I’ve ever done. The hiring manager was one of the biggest jerks I’ve ever come across in an interview setting. He was hardcore, never smiled, challenged every single response I gave, and I let him rattle me. He asked me if I was a rule follower…I said yes. He then asked quickly, “Well do you ever speed?” I said, “Sometimes I go above the speed limit, I guess.” He said, “So then you are a liar…you do break the rules.” Cray cray right?
OK, I digress. Back to the question of whether you love to win or hate to lose. The one thing about this horrific interview was it exposed me to a really beautiful question that challenges one’s core values, motivation, and fundamental belief system. As a sales trainer, I often use this question to explore a new hire’s paradigm and approach to sales. Most often, these new hires and other people that I ask, say “both.” A close second is “I hate to lose.” Hating to lose is the dogma that has been ingrained in most high-achievers, go-getters, type A’s, athletes, and sales people all over the world. Select sports, advanced placement programs, and special clubs are at an all-time high for children and the ages are getting younger and younger. For me, playing select sports at a young age, the idea that winning is the only option was implanted in my psyche early on. Many, like me, received self worth and our identities based on wins and losses.
To error is human, but to forgive is not the policy of this company.
Three out of my first four years in medical sales, I received a phone call informing me whether I was able to keep my job or not due to down-sizing and layoffs. Luckily, my sales performance was always good enough to stay employed. Winning and losing is often times a matter of receiving a paycheck or not…this is true, but as I’ve become older and wiser, I feel like many of us are missing the point.
There is another group of parents and individuals that believe every one deserves a medal, a golden star, and a trophy for simply participating. “We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” they say. I unequivocally do not fall into that category or agree with this set of beliefs. I believe this is a huge problem that manifests entitlement, complacency, and narcissism. In life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You get the girl, or you don’t. You land the job, or they offer it to someone else. You get accepted into the college of your dreams, or your application is denied.
The point I’m trying to make is that failure is a key component of one’s development. Two very different individuals, but visionaries in their own unique way – Tupac Shakur and Nelson Mandela – both are quoted in saying, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” So many focus on the outcome instead of the process…their growth. If we spend more time channeling our energy in our preparation, attitude, focus, and effort, the outcome is irrelevant. Growth, knowledge, stretching oneself, and improvement should be the emphasis. If you look at goal attainment this way, trust me, the wins will come.
Seek PROGRESS, not perfection.
When you bust your ass, give it all you got, and leave it all out there, and come up short…there’s nothing wrong with that. Obsessing over perfection will paralyze you. This approach, of looking at outcomes from a different perspective, might actually help you win more. Being clutch is doing what you normally do when it matters most. Being able to lay your head down at night in peace whether you win OR lose, because you are judging yourself on a different set of criteria vs. the W or L column, is I think the only way to live…and perform at your best. Judging myself on my preparation, being present in the moment, and leaving no ammo left (meaning I spilled my guts going as hard, as intense as I could…with a purpose, passion, and a plan)…if I lose, I can live with that. The next step, is to evaluate where I fell short, adjust, improve, and try again.
Many of you have viewed losing the same way I did for most of my life…you give it all the power. This thought process forces people to miss the 5 foot putt, or choke when they have to perform in front of their manager or a really important client. When the fear of losing is absent, and you shift that energy away from the black and whiteness of a win or a loss and evaluate and reward yourself based on a different set of criteria, you will in turn be more clutch. Stop giving fear the power! You are not defined by your failure, but how you react to it (learn, grow, and improve). Losing the battle is not detrimental if your focus is on winning the war…having a macro perspective vs. micro…the power of perspective changes everything.
Life is short…celebrate the wins, learn from the losses. Adversity, obstacles, and challenges often times are our greatest gift. I don’t enjoy losing, I just look at it differently. My self-efficacy can be found in the E & G column (Effort and Growth)…not by wins and losses.
So now my answer to the question is:
I LOVE TO WIN!