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Winning is not the Point

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With each passing week as the summer rolls on, another junior national comes to a close and more county fairs have named their champions. Maybe you won the banner. Maybe you won your class. Maybe you didn’t bring home any new hardware. Maybe you worked the better part of a year on this project and now feel like you’ve got nothing to show for it.

“But winning is not the point.” Pat Summitt, legendary women’s basketball coach, passed away recently and, among the many articles and tributes I read in the days following her death, I came across a column dated June 28, 2016, in the Washington Post written by Sally Jenkins. Included in the column was a letter that Coach Pat Summitt wrote to one of her young players in 1982.

The first paragraph of the letter reads:

“Shelia, This is your first game. I hope you win for your sake, not mine. Because winning’s nice. It’s a good feeling. Like the whole world is yours. But it passes, this feeling. And what lasts is what you’ve learned. And what you’ve learned about is — life. That’s what sport is all about — life!”

So if you win the next show? Awesome. Congratulations, sincerely. But remember, winning passes and what will last with you are the lessons you’ve learned and the foundation you’ve built for yourself.

And if you don’t win? Here’s the final section of the letter penned by Coach Pat Summitt:

“Winning is fun . . . Sure.

But winning is not the point.

Wanting to win is the point.

Not giving up is the point.

Never letting up is the point.

Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.

The game is never over. No matter what the scoreboard reads, or what the referee says, it doesn’t end when you come off the court.

The secret of the game is in doing your best. To persist and endure, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

“The game is never over.” When you step out of the ring at this year’s junior national, county fair, jackpot series, state fair, or North American, the lessons won’t end. You’ll carry the focus, determination, attitude, and responsibility you learned with you the entire year and well beyond the end of your show career.

Does this mean you shouldn’t strive to win? Absolutely not. Pat Summitt was the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, finishing her career with a 1,098-208 overall record. But even she knew that “…winning is not the point.”

 

Marlene Eick is a storyteller and coach. As co-owner of Herdmark Media, she helps businesses in agriculture tell their story. As a leadership and career coach, she helps people discover the stories within themselves.

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