What if there was no such thing as winning? Can you even imagine it?
How would anyone be able to establish who was the best at anything if there were no outright winner?
What would happen to all of the championships, the rings, medals, awards, belts, trophies? Wouldn’t they become meaningless?
This thought came to me one day and it intrigued me. I wondered what the upsides and downsides would be, ignoring for a moment that it was unlikely that others would accept it as a practical idea.
They might also be afraid that in addition to giving up the idea of winning, the concept could extend to grades, evaluations, promotions, and all sorts of other endeavors that appeared to be desired.
But I needed to sit with this because it felt like there was something important behind the scenes that was worth considering, even if just for myself.
I wondered what could be wrong with casting out the idea of winning and the flip side, losing. Who would it hurt?
I thought back to instances where I won something, a game, a contest, an award, a promotion. What did they mean to me?
In the moment, something about them felt good. They added to my sense of self-worth. I believed they altered others impressions of me for the better. Some of them increased my bank account or furthered my career. So, what could be bad about them?
Does it hurt others to have lost? Could it be said that if they tried harder, they could have been the winner? Could have taken the prize from me?
It occurred to me that there might be a handful or a thousand contestants, all trying their best to win and only one individual or team would end up in the winner’s circle. Does that seem fair?
How do all of those who lost feel?
Part of me had a very strong reaction to all of this. It’s the part that wanted to explore this idea. Its voice rose higher and higher until it had my whole attention. I had to ask, was any part of this ‘sour grapes’, the sensation that comes when you can’t have something, and you have a bad attitude about it.
The fact is you can’t always win at everything. Sometimes everyone loses unless they never compete at all.
When I finally reached this sentence it all became clear. What if life and all of the events we experience were not competitions, ways to rank order things, to establish winners and losers?
What if instead, life was collaborative? What if folks worked together? What would happen then? The part of me that started this whole thing sat up and took notice of this idea.
But another part of me joined in and pointed out that human nature always has an element of competition involved. That some amount of it is in everyone…how they look, how smart they are, how much money they have….and on, and on.
Where was this inner conversation going to go now? Was there some middle ground?
A new thought sprung up and a question formed.
What if it’s not about winning and losing itself but about what each of them mean to us? Is there a way to have a game, a contest, an evaluation, where the idea is to raise everyone up? To find ways to encourage, congratulate, reward, assist, appreciate, and acknowledge everyone’s innate value as a human being?
I’d like to think so. I’d like to incorporate this idea into my life and help others do the same. I’d like to think that winning and losing are not the point and that valuing everyone and the contributions they are capable of making is the point. I’m going to try to shift my mindset about this and see what happens.