Pursuing more of my “Love to Win” side at the 2014 Spartan Sprint obstacle race.
Call it ironic, but in my less-than-fit days I was a regular subscriber to Men’s Health magazine.
As I looked upon the cover of each fresh edition I sincerely believed (read: hoped) that this just might be the edition that unveils the ground-breaking discovery that Maple Walnut ice cream contained a fat-burning ingredient that could give me “six-pack abs by summer!”
I eventually decided to take a different route to improved fitness. While I can’t say I would credit Men’s Health for my success, there was one posting that left a long-lasting impression on me.
This specific article effectively split humanity into two simple groups.
Group 1: Those who love to win.
Group 2: Those who hate to lose.
Of course everyone prefers winning and, thus, would rather not lose. But most people, if they really think it through, can probably identify what fuels them more; the rush of victory or resentment toward loss.
It didn’t take me long to realize I was a hate-to-lose kind of dude. If my team, in any sport, was winning life seemed in order and under control. There was balance in the Force. But if we were losing my emotions would take over in an effort to avoid failure. I would walk away from any loss feeling frustrated, unsettled and pondering what I could have done to avoid it. I didn’t need to celebrate the wins as much as I needed to avoid the feeling of loss.
I embraced that discovery and used it to make me better. In hockey I became a defensive, shut-down centre, eventually turning to a pure defenseman where my emotional drive to avoid getting beat could feed my game. It proved to be a good move for my career (boy, do I use the word career lightly).
In the last couple of years, however, I considered if perhaps my friendship with the hate-to-lose side of me had led to complacency and, in some cases, boredom! (we’ll get to that nasty word in a later post)
Generally speaking, of course, hate-to-lose people might play the game of life a little on the safe side. They could miss out on hidden opportunities while choosing to avoid opportunities to test their limits. They are less likely to take risks or seek adventure. Their theory being, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The love-to-win type is ready to take those risks and fly by the seat of their pants for the possible thrill of success. On the flip side, they might take unnecessary risks, act without calculated consideration of consequence, risk losing a lot for the sake of winning a little. Their theory being, “Let’s break it ‘cause maybe we can rebuild it better.”
So which one is better? I could give you all sorts of analogies of how either approach has a proven track record of success.
But the key is to find out who you are and challenge yourself to bring the other element into your life a little more. I’ll use a hockey analogy (get used to it) to show you what I mean. It is commonly preached that “defense wins championships.” But it is also a fact that you can’t win the Stanley Cup without scoring goals. Even the defensemen need to contribute to the offense for a team to be a serious contender. More specifically, the great players who lead their teams to the big games are the ones who find the right balance of defense and offense. Those players aren’t born playing like that. They all enter the league with one style of play that has gotten them to where they are. Then they develop that balance over seasons of growth, experience and hard work. The most successful players develop their weaknesses to complement their strengths.
This is a concept we should all adopt for the sake of growth, inspiration and diversity. Whether you are more of a hate-to-lose or a love-to-win type, heighten your awareness to that and consider the areas of your life where a lack of balance has possibly challenged your growth or development. Then make the effort to approach the opposite way of thinking from time to time.
It worked for George Costanza!