In Defense of Winning



In recent times, competition and winning have developed a bad rap. Some argue that competition is destructive and undermines cooperation and respect within society and organizations. It’s not the winning, but the participation that matters, is a justification frequently advanced for not succeeding. In schools nowadays we see prizes being awarded for coming in tenth place.

While winning isn’t always everything and attempting to win at everything, aside from being an ego-driven strategy, is a surefire way to achieve burnout, there can be little doubt that succeeding in what’s important to you, matters greatly.

Whether it’s getting the job offer or promotion, raising venture capital or a family, winning in the boardroom or more importantly on the battlefield, winning can be the difference between depression and happiness, bankruptcy and solvency and in some cases life or death. The harsh reality is that there are rarely any meaningful second prizes for simply participating or practicing.

This is not to say that attempting to win by ‘any means necessary’ is acceptable.

Playing by the rules and respecting your competitors provides valuable learning and growth and helps maintain stability within societies and organizations. Cheating is nearly always ultimately destructive–just think of Enron and Lance Armstrong.

Competition is the route to winning and of itself provides many benefits including being an engine of the global economy, raising standards and quality and spurring innovation. Studies have repeatedly shown that in a competitive environment, most people improve their effort and performance.

Attempting to win means we get better as we inevitably try harder and perhaps more importantly, we inspire others to seek to do better. We just need to remember how inspired we feel when we watch an Olympic athlete win the gold medal or watch our team win the Super Bowl. We admire their mental toughness, resilience and determination.

When we have the courage to go for gold and be the best that we can, we and others win, even when we lose.



Reprinted by permission.

 Image Credit: CC by Adrian Valenzuela

About the author: Martin Soorjoo

Founder of The Pitch Clinic, Martin Soorjoo is a pitch strategist. He coaches entrepreneurs world-wide, helping them launch and raise funding. Prior to founding The Pitch Clinic, Martin spent 15 years as a former award winning attorney. He has worked with start-ups and investors, including senior investment bankers, venture capitalists and angel investors. During this period Martin raised several million dollars, including negotiating one deal worth $75 Million. This experience has equipped him with unique insights into the challenges start-ups face and how investors make decisions. He is a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and an expert in body language.

Martin is the author of ‘Here’s the Pitch‘.

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