Don’t let “the win” control you

It’s not how many points you have but what you did to get them, whether you’re an athlete, a gamer, or someone trying to “win” at some other aspect in your life.

How you play the game reflects who you are choosing to be and your life priorities. When you walk off the field or turn off the machine or leave whatever field of competition you’ve decided to occupy, who you are stays with you. It permeates your relationships, your accomplishments in other areas, and ultimately your enjoyment of life. What you send out in life rebounds back to you.

You may mistakenly believe that the only way to get the prize or take home the victory is to embrace the philosophy that “winning is everything.” You may mistakenly think that people who aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to win – hurting others, cheating, being outrageously aggressive, breaking the law – aren’t giving it their all. The reality is that people can give a goal their all and emerge victors in ways beyond comparison with a “win” from the competition.

Who are you without “the win?” If you don’t win, does that make you a “loser?” Does that mean anyone who doesn’t “win” is a “loser?” What about people whose interests lie completely elsewhere, who are happy without even touching the ball or the controller? If someone beats you – and someone inevitably will because that’s how life works – the belief that the win is everything gives losing the power to devastate you. That makes you weaker than those who don’t measure their value in terms of points or dollars or some other arbitrary measure of success created by someone else. You’re not just taking on the disappointment that comes with a loss. Your belief system is setting you up for a much bigger loss.

Getting the most points or the most money or the most praise makes you only one kind of a winner. If winning at all costs is what you need to be satisfied, then you’re missing out on a larger victory. Some people play the game to win more than one victory: the game itself and the satisfaction that comes from having tried their best without sacrificing wins in other areas such as relationships, enjoyment of the process, and acting admirably. The ability to compete with honor, grace, and integrity is a victory in its own right, one that may often be more difficult to accomplish because the challengers are your own self and the intricacies of life. Wise people watch how you play the game because they know it reflects your values, and they may avoid you or seek to take away your power or position out of protection for themselves or society – not just acting out of jealousy, as some “winners” tell themselves.

If you need to win in order to be happy, then you’re not in charge of your life. “The win” is in charge of your life. You may have set the goal, but the goal owns you.

RELATED: The poetry behind “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.”