My oldest by a minute was working with his mother on a first grade project the other evening that, for a week, allows him to be the "Superstar" of his classroom. Pretty heady stuff when you're not quite 7 but also very telling when you're a parent listening to your child describe who they think they are.
"Post your picture and tell us your favorite, food/color/fun thing to do and please share with us 3 supercool facts about you that we don't already know, etc." In my mind I had all of these blanks filled in for him and he started down that track but then he did something incredibly honest and at my wife's encouragement, he told us who he really is.
When's the last time you tried that in a professional setting, the being completely honest part, without fear of recrimination or negative judgement of some sort? Wow, right?!
Turns out one of the earth shattering things I learned is that he doesn't consider himself an athlete because he really doesn't like win/lose games even though he admits he thinks he's "pretty fast". T-ball...the league didn't keep score and everyone played. Soccer...nope, no goal keepers and no scores kept by this league either. Cross Country? Bunch a kids running for the finish line but everyone's a winner for having participated with a ribbon to prove it. Is it really that he doesn't like competition? I'll go with yes and explain.
Winners are aggressive and have attitude. They're always showing off how physically superior/educated/talented they are and drawing all sorts of attention. They aren't good sports and make others feel bad for losing.
I'm not going to say that all of these statements are false but I'm going to put some spin on it because in the workplace I think being aggressive can be a good trait and that a positive attitude is still an attitude. I believe that giving others something to shoot for with respect to improving performance, physical or mental isn't necessarily a bad thing and that how you feel about losing has more to do with you than the person who won.
Weird that we stand out there with our coffees on Saturday morning cheering on every kid regardless of which side they're on in whichever seasonal, non-competitive activity yet all the kids on all the teams know who can hit and who can't; who scored goals and how many; and who the first kid across the finish line was, oh...and so do the parents.
Why are we so afraid to admit that we do keep score and that winning really does feel better than losing?! Why are we teaching our kids that competition is bad, and that winning isn't to be enjoyed unless everyone wins? Me being as honest as a 6 year old? Losing sucks and I don't care how many losers you surround yourself with. If you've ever been part of a layoff or fired you know what I mean and no amount of "it wasn't my fault" will make you feel better or pay the mortgage.
How does promoting a "there's not one winner, we're all winners" mentality better the world they're going to inherit? How will this set them up to succeed if there's no definition of what success is? We should be teaching future generations how to win graciously and how to set and then exceed their own expectations so as to define success instead of how to be good losers. Life isn't fair and fair isn't always equal but I assure you, regardless of the endeavor, someone is keeping score and your employer is one of them.
As for the ribbon he won for showing up? It meant so much that I found it later the next day on the backseat floor of the car..vinny