The thing with winning is that it’s decisive and undeniable.
I got there first.
I did it more.
I went further.
I did it best.
Even when it comes to subjective wins. The winner wins. Figure skating comes to mind. Even though I have no idea how one decides who wins figure skating, when it’s decided, the winner wins. The end. Whoever comes in second and onward gets to grapple with not winning.
Even if it’s subjective win, if you didn’t win, one might say…
I could go faster.
I could do more.
I could go further.
I could do it better.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of winning a local trail race. A muddy, cold Vancouver morning featuring just shy of 20km at the feet of our local mountains. I wasn’t thinking too much about the race. I wanted to switch my schedule up a bit and in truth, I missed the pain and lung busting sensation that only a race can provide, so I signed up.
The startline was a very casual scene. I don’t think anyone even warmed up. We just stood there, friendly chats and a darting of the eyes to check out the competition. I don’t run a lot of trail races so I didn’t know anyone I should be looking out for. I darted because that’s just what you do. ….she looks fast…. That girl looks like she knows what’s she’s doing… that girl brought a backpack…should I have a backpack?
The gun went off and I was quickly the second place woman. Within 10mins of the race, I started to think that maybe I could win. I also started to think about my jumping-over-roots-and-rocks skills/lack thereof and tried to stop considering a win so early.
By 5km, I was in the lead. By 12km I was wondering why I hadn’t be passed yet and by 16km, I came to terms with being the winner and if I was going to win, then I’d better break 2 hours. You know, for womankind and stuff. I dragged myself up the final hills on all fours - “Golluming” (term coined by Alissa St Laurent).
I crossed the finish line in 1:59 something and that was the end. I won. I got there first. It felt awesome and I had first choice of the snacks at the finish line buffet.
One thing I’ve been trying lately is to act like I don’t win….not that my life is plagued with constant winning of things. BUT when it does, I’m trying to first celebrate and then reflect on the things I might have said if I came second – like…
I could go faster. How?
I could do more. How?
I could go further. How?
I could do it better. How?
I decided to do this because of something an executive said in a recent meeting about our company’s performance. Someone asked why we strive for more even though we general exceed expectations. “A top runner doesn’t stop training or getting better just because they’re better than everyone else.” Boom.
While a win is decisive and undeniable, I’ve decided to always come second, even if I win.