Thursday, September 18, 2008

Losing to win...

At a recent family gathering, I was shocked to hear my uncle say, in front of my young kids and nieces, "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you... a loser." I was aghast. My response, "That is so wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start," was all I could muster, and in my mind, I envisioned his statement as a great theme for a novel. Oddly enough, this event happened in close proximity to celebrated British author J.K. Rowling's delivery of a speech to Harvard University's 2008 graduating class with the title, "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination." I know about this because I'm a subscriber to Ode Magazine, and the cover story of their October issue, expertly written by Marisa Taylor and entitled "In Praise of Failure," reports on it. Here's the video.

Among many similar examples from the world of sports and business, Ms. Taylor's feature story also shares the advertised and lesser-known setbacks of Michael Jordan, who reportedly was cut from his high school basketball team after his first tryout. To give my uncle credit, I suppose he would say that Air Jordan was probably not a good loser on that occasion, and his famous will to succeed probably made him nearly impossible to live with until he made that team. But to me, having played sports a lot, I always felt that winning is not the most important aspect of sports (or life, for that matter). Being a good sport has much more value to me, learning from mistakes, having fun and helping others to achieve these things... those are the things I strive for, and that make me most proud when I see my children projecting them when taking part in sports... and life. Perhaps their trophy cases will ultimately contain less hardware, but maybe the world -- or another kid somewhere -- will be better-off because my child decided that winning at any price is not what life, sports, etc., is all about.