“Humble” Pies for “Competitive” Prices – Learning How To Be a Winner

All I do is win win win no matter what
Got money on my mind, I can never get enough
And every time I step up in the building
Everybody hands go UP
And they stay there, and they stay there
And they stay there – up down up down up down
Cause all I do is WIN, WIN, WIN
And if you goin in put yo’ hands in the air, make ’em stay there!

Competition is one of the most addicting things that can influence people’s actions and lifestyles. It goes way beyond just a record of wins and losses too. It’s the reason Kobe Bryant will continue to lie through his teeth that he’s not trying to be better than Michael Jordan while everyone in the room knows better. It’s the reason that 50 Cent challenged the one rapper who has a bigger ego than him, Kanye West, in a battle to see whose album would outsell the other (Graduation is my favorite Kanye CD too). It’s the reason why my cousins would ridicule and belittle me at the tender age of 6 for losing to them in NBA Jam by a 30+ margin while I was happy to just play the damn game. It was also the reason why I take great pride and exaggerated joy when they lose to me in video games now. Competition is a part of everyone’s fabric of a human being, it depends on each person how they decide to wear it for themselves.

America praises the competitor because it admires the drive and determination one shows to reach their goals. But when they lose, that’s when things become interesting to me. The loser not only has to accept that despite everything they’ve done to prepare for victory it wasn’t enough in the end. So now they have the decision of whether walking up to their competition and tell them that they were indeed the better of the 2, which is never easy to do no matter what anyone will tell you. Or they can ignore that last sentence and publicly show their disappointment while simultaneously display their feeling that what just happen was a fluke and they’re still better. The 2nd option is always more entertaining to see for all the wrong reasons. Sure seeing opponents shake hands and extend congratulations towards each other is heart-warming and great seeing from a feel good aspect. But it something about watching a person who sincerely thinks they’re still better showing it for the world to see that intrigues people in a way reality TV can no longer fabricate anymore. For instance, Chicago fans waited years to see the “Bad Boy” Pistons be dethroned by their upstart Bulls. And when the Bulls swept their nemesis in the 91 Eastern Conf Finals, the city began to relish in the idea of Detroit players telling us we were indeed the better team. If things only went that way:

(Skip to 6:40)

Joe Dumars and John Salley were the only 2 Pistons to stay on the court while the rest of the team left the court. They walked right across the Bulls bench without acknowledging the team that ended an era for the “Bad Boys”, which both intensified and capped off one of the greatest NBA rivalries. I mean it would have been nice to see Isiah Thomas shake MJ’s hands and maybe some subtle, mild pleasure in seeing his hometown team reach the Finals for the 1st for sentimental value. But that’s too good of a story for the “Bad Boys”. And to this day when Isiah Thomas name is mentioned more often than not my father will promptly refer to him as a punk and commend John Salley for doing the right thing. These Pistons built their persona on being the bullies that not only would beat you in the fight, but also beat you in the game basketball itself. They dominated the Bulls for 3 years in the playoffs and can take claim as 1 of the few teams that rattled Michael Jordan. The very thing that was a huge part of them being back-2-back championships were the very same factors for them being seen as sore losers: unadulterated, unapologetic bravado. And let’s be honest did we expect anything different from them? The fact that they had the balls to do what they did made for great drama despite them epitomizing the sore loser example.

I heard a phrase once that basically said you can only judge a champion when they lose. Of course the devil’s advocate in me (get beneath me LUCIFER!!!) thought about those who could be perfect in competition before I realize the point. A champion is a person who not only knows how to win but also how to lose:

(You can skip to 3:30 to see why I chose this video) 

It’s easy today for us to spit out any and everything we’re thinking about at any given moment without once thinking about swallowing our pride anymore. I remember my 1st year in cross-country I sucked at the beginning of the season. I didn’t fully understand what I gotten myself into or how to pace myself for a race anywhere from 2.5 to 3 miles. But I gradually improved my endurance with practice and learned how to pace myself. Halfway through the season my times began to dramatically drop. By now I figure out what to do and came a long way from meets where I was running and thinking to myself “This is bull…what the hell am I doing here this early in the morning?” Those were the only times I ever had legitimately thought about quitting a sport. Fast forward to 1 meet where I’m doing fairly good keeping in pace with 2 of our best runners in the fro-soph level (freshman and sophomore). So as I see the final stretch I began my final kick. While running in races it’s common for racers to try to block your path, particularly towards the end of the race. Well I was experiencing this and made maneuvers to defeat this. But one runner was persistent and kept blocking me forcing me to trip on the back of his cleats a few times. Every time I regained my balanced my determination and frustration rose more and more and almost reached a boiling point as we crossed the finish line. My teammates were congratulating on a good race and acknowledge the “a**hole” in front of me at the end of my race saying he could be disqualified. I was just trying to calm myself down when the fellow racer walked up to me, extended his hand, and told me good race. I extended mines and repeated the expression patted him on the back went on with my day.

It’s never easy to look into the eyes of the person who’s just defeated and humble yourself to congratulate them. But nothing worthwhile in life is easy either. I had to learn how to lose in order to become a winner. This doesn’t make me any less competitive, but just makes me realize what needs to be done to get where I want to be. Anybody can win a game or 2. A champion knows how to consistently win because they know how it feels losing and what to do to avoid that outcome. Let’s see if Tiger Woods can ever realize this!

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