This family quote has haunted me through all my years of training and I suspect that I am not alone. In case you are reading this and have no idea, where this quote came from, let me give you a bit of information. The saying “Winning isn’t everything … it’s the only thing” has been attributed for more than 45 years to the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers football team, the man named after the Super Bowl trophy; the great Vince Lombardi. News flash: never said; what he did say is that “winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” The misquote comes from a Hollywood production starring John Wayne and Donna Reed, titled “Trouble Along the Way” (Warner Brothers 1953) that was filmed in black and white and was a story in which Wayne plays a coach and a single father with a daughter. at a private Catholic university and Donna Reed a child-minded social worker. In the movie, a game is played while Donna Reed and the girl are in the stands watching a scene. The scene switches between shots of the Duke walking the sideline barking plays and firing up his team, then a couple of priests waving the school colors and finally Donna Reed and the girl who appears to be about 10-12 years old. old. Donna Reed is commenting to the girl that she hopes the children are enjoying the game and giving everything or something like that, when the girl responds with the line … “well, you know what father (so-and-so) always says .. . “Winning is not everything, it is the only thing.” This phrase comes from a Hollywood production of the mouth of a fictional character of 10 years. Somehow, this phrase was attributed to Vince Lombardi (some say due to his religious affiliation with the Catholic Church) and spent the rest of his life until his last days trying to correct that mistake with sports commentators and writers.
I suspect, like many others, that this kind of thinking, that winning is the only thing, has dominated the way many coaches and parents view sports competition, and when our children, our school team or we are not winning at all the competencies. then there must be something wrong. Is it possible that something more is being gained that at the moment neither I, the father nor I, the coach, can grasp in my moment of temporary setback? It is the notion of winning all the time that is so ingrained in our society that we do all kinds of things, even ignoring our higher sense of ourselves to achieve it. Sometimes we are willing to do “whatever it takes” even if it means not doing the right thing. Confused yet? Of course it is because, sadly, once we eliminate the “winning is everything” mentality, we are forced to look elsewhere for the true purpose of these competitions. By looking, the answer I have discovered is not in my head. It is actually found in the heart with a capital H, and I’ll get back to that in a minute.
If you look at winning and losing as a whole, the fact is that every time you step on a field your chances are 50/50. This is a simple truth, the world as we can perceive it, is made up of a set of opposites, hot vs. cold, up vs. down, win vs. lose, etc. everything in creation is a world of duality. In fact, you cannot experience one without the other. Imagine living alone with daylight? Just darkness? One complements the other. Without pain, this is not joy. Without an opponent, we cannot play the game. So how do we operate in this world of duality? Also, where do we put our attention to be successful instead of failing? Also, more specifically, how do we participate in competitive sports? The answer is in our higher sense of ourselves. There is a large part of us that knows how to take all of this duality and see it for what it is and what it is not. We are much more than winners or losers in this game! In fact, we are the creators of our own destinies. And depending on how we notice and observe the workings of our own thoughts and the feelings they create, we can see the good in both winning and losing. We can experience both the good and the bad of winning and losing and not forgetting our true selves. This is not a new concept, the eastern forms of competition have been teaching it for thousands of years; they even refer to their sports as “arts” as in martial arts. The objectives of which are not to annihilate or destroy opponents, but to honor, respect and love them. The realization that without an opponent the artist has no way of demonstrating the skills he has mastered. The competition is based on both opponents showing their best, giving 100% and enjoying the opportunity to compete. It is not in winning or losing, but in competing that the athlete / artist can demonstrate their level of mastery. Vince Lombardi’s correction of the famous misstatement “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” It has a very subtle but powerful distinction of winning is the only thing. That distinction lies in the power of our attention and intention. Why participate in an activity unless you do your best? Our intention should always be to do our best to win or succeed, however, if on a given day we do not get the result that we would prefer, we should not take it personally. We do our best, learn from our mistakes, and just get better as we grow. I have a personal motto that goes like this: “Make it personal, don’t take it personal.” What I mean by that is that I want to do the best I can, I want it personally to be my business to give all I can, while at the same time, I remember that whether I succeed or fail, it is not a problem. true reflection of who I really am, it is only the result of the best of my efforts at that time.
I can remember several times in my coaching career and in my career as a parent when my son and I learned lessons during his days as a peewee football player. One season, he was drafted by a team that failed to win a game. He complained on our trips home and at one point told me that he didn’t want to play anymore. I understood his pain, having been there as a coach and a player, but I also knew that it would be valuable to continue and fulfill what he had committed to doing. After much discussion and persuasion on my part, he agreed to finish the season and just do his best no matter what the score was in a given match. His team never won a single game in the regular season, but lo and behold, a little miracle happened. When it was time for the playoffs, his team was able to triumph in the two biggest games of the year. That’s right; they won the semifinal and championship games. I took the opportunity to point out to my son that if he had resigned, he would have missed the opportunity to be a champion. We also discuss how you never really know how things might turn out if you keep your commitments and your word and just do your best.
Earlier I mentioned a Hollywood movie that produced a very dangerous and unrealistic concept. Hollywood has also produced some amazing and wonderful stories to inspire us as well. I recently saw “Friday Night Lights” another movie about soccer. This is the highly competitive game of Texas high school football. The best part was the locker room scene at halftime of the “big game” when coach Gary Gaines starts talking about “Being perfect”, the team’s context for the season. It begins by telling the players to forget what’s on the scoreboard, to forget about winning, and to get back on the field to do their best, to give their all for each other, and to do it with love. in the heart. and a feeling of joy at playing. He tells them how much he loves each of them and shows them what he hopes they have learned … If they play the game to the best of their ability, and for the right reasons, the final score is not their reward; the feeling with which they will be. We are all looking for the answer, we find it in our Heart with a capital H for this real answer. In football or in the game of life, if we play our best, giving our best and loving what we do, there will only be winners and champions no matter what the scoreboard says. Playing the game for all the right reasons is the key.
Finding and understanding the right reasons to compete was and is the biggest challenge I face on a daily basis, no matter the task. I live in this world of duality and by nature; I prefer only half of what constitutes my perception of reality. I just want to win, I just want happiness, etc. The problem is that the more attached I am to what I want, the more attached also to its opposites. Reality is a double-edged sword. The answer to this riddle is not to be attached, but to play the game with the heart and not with the head. You see, it is your head and your ego that see and experience duality and it is your head that creates the preferences based on all the information that it has collected during a lifetime of life in this world of opposites. It is your head that will take winning and losing personally; your heart, on the other hand, will go with the flow feeling the joy and love of simply playing the game. It is love that brings you back to the game, over and over again, whether you are winning or losing. In other words, love isn’t everything … it’s the only thing. Winning is a happy by-product.
A few years ago, while working as an assistant coach at the high school level; I was listening to our head coach talking to players at halftime of a college basketball game. He told them that to be winners they would have to work hard, play smart, have fun, and do it together. I found it to be very good advice. And as I listened to him talk about these ideas, it dawned on me that before anyone wanted to commit to all the hard work it takes to win, something else should be present as well. The reason we become true winners and champions in sports and in life is mainly that, in addition to committing to hard work, smart play, fun, etc. – we have to truly love what we are doing.
If we love what we’re doing, it’s so much easier to push yourself, bounce back from losses, and show up to play the game over and over again. It turns out that when you examine the mindset and heart of true champions (whether in sports or in life), what you see and hear from them is how much they love it. Whatever the “it” is for them. All great champions have this as the basis for participating in their chosen endeavors. All great people have learned to play the game from the heart and simply use their heads as a compass, a tool to navigate to success. This is the most valuable lesson that sport and competition have taught me. This is the most valuable lesson we can teach our young athletes. “Winning is not everything, it is loving what you do that means everything.”