I don’t think of myself as a winner. Two reasons. Firstly I don’t compete much, and secondly I was brought up to believe that it’s the taking part that counts. Remember that old chestnut? But on the rare occasion when it does happen, it’s a wonderful feeling, isnt it?
Last night my favourite candidate, the deliciously under-confident, delightful Jo won The Great British Bakeoff. People are saying this is the surprise runaway TV programme of the summer. All I can say is where were you lot last year? Doh. Us early adopters spotted this one a mile off! Anyway, Jo had been my favourite for a while. I SO wanted a win for her so she could believe in herself. I loved her bravery in entering. I loved that she was entirely herself throughout and that she won not just because she was the nicest person but, in the last two weeks, pulled the best overall results out of the hat too.
When Jo the underdog won, I felt I had won since I had picked her when the odds were against us. At the moment of her winning, having had my heart in my mouth for about 55 minutes, I threw up my arms into the air and burst into tears narrowly avoiding the histrionics of an X-Factor no-hoper. Of course, in NLP terms, my body can’t tell the difference and whatever endorphins rushed through her body in a moment like that for Jo, also rushed through mine. I was a winner. Yay! Jo and I had done it together.
And it’s a lovely feeling for being all the more rare in my life.
Earlier this year I had to go to Court on behalf of a company of which I was a Director. I had never been to Court before, and although I had my co-Director, the defendant, with me and a former solicitor as a “McKenzie Friend”, it fell to me to win. I did all of the preparation of documents submitted to the Court in advance, I attended the mediation and made the decision not to cave in for our part despite strong pressure to do so and pay up a sum we didn’t owe, and I had to do most of the work on the day.
We were the underdogs, the unsympathetic party, on the back foot. But I felt “right” was on our side and was filled with a smidgen – at least – of moral indignation, of being embroiled in something which was important on a point of principle. Presumably the claimant felt the same, otherwise we wouldn’t all have been in that room. We were all anxious and sweaty, it was a hot day. We each got our turn to say our bit, and we won. I won. It was a fabulous feeling, all the more so for the scary factor of being brave and stepping up, much as Jo must have felt when she entered the BBC baking competition. I do remember the feeling stayed with me for several days and I couldn’t help coming back and back to it in the car journey on the way home. Part amazement. Part wanting to feel how success feels repeatedly. Joyous relief too, to have the project out of my intray after nearly three years.
You’ve got to put yourself out there to win, haven’t you? And it seems to me from reading this quote from Michael Jordan, the basketball player, you’ve got to be cool with losing in order to be a winner: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot – and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…and that is why I succeed.”
Reading that I know I’ve failed a lot. But am I prepared to fail over and over and over again? I think not. I’m not sure I am robust enough for that. And therein lies the rub.
But in looking for inspiration for this piece on Twitter earlier today I found this from Tina Van Leuven, posting a Dale Carnegie quote. “Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.” And if that’s true, and I don’t doubt it, then I might choose to play more, to compete more, and be prepared to lose more – in order to win.
I will end with these thoughts from the musical Cabaret, sung very powerfully by Liza Minelli. It just came to mind as I was writing this piece and speaks to the confusion of my feelings around this winning.
Everybody loves a winner
So nobody loved me
‘Lady Peaceful,’ ‘Lady Happy,’
That’s what I long to be
All the odds are in my favor
Something’s bound to begin
It’s got to happen, happen sometime
Maybe this time I’ll win
I can be totally peaceful and happy without competing and without taking part and without winning. And peace and happiness are all to me. But boy, winning is a glorious life-enhancing feeling of excitementn every now and again!
Would you choose to be more courageous more often to achieve that high? Or are you a natural winner?