Winning Isn't Everything, But … by Restaurant Expert Witness – Howard Cannon
Posted: Oct 12, 2013
My son brought home a flyer from school about a youth soccer league, asking parents and coaches to teach certain attributes to their children. These qualities included morals, sharing, patience, persistence and “how to lose”. According to the flyer, winning was not important. Instead, the flyer suggested sitting down after each game or practice and telling each child how great he or she did!
The line that really blows my mind is: “Winning is not important!” It was the goal of this organization to teach kids to “learn to lose” and completely avoid the concept of winning. It can't be done.
Winning does matter. It matters a lot! Winning is so important that you're not going to get any of those great qualities that the league listed if winning is factored out of the equation. Winning as a fundamental goal shows a team that there is a destination. The possibility of winning forces a team to hone their skills and execute a plan. Going for the win means a team's standards are high; they're driving toward the best possible outcome and pursuing excellence. Winning counts!
You can't teach someone to "learn to lose" if you pretend like winning doesn't matter. Losing doesn't take place in a vacuum where winners are nowhere to be found. A team loses because the other team had the ambition to win.
If you're learning to lose, the idea is not, "It's okay. There's always next time." There won't be a win next time either. If you don't figure out where things went wrong, if you're not engaged in correcting mistakes and becoming better, then you're just destined to repeat losing. Without setting a goal and setting your eyes on a prize like victory, there is no objective except the opportunity for continued mediocrity.
All of those high ideals that the pamphlet listed won't be achieved by anyone if people don't understand that learning those ideals means winning at life! For example, subtract the desire to win from the quality of persistence. Where's the inspiration to stay the course if achieving something is irrelevant? People aren't going to make an effort if they have no final goal. It’s hard to muster up any motivation when there’s nothing to be achieved.
The flyer mentioned teaching children how to be a good leader. Leadership requires that leaders have a vision. The vision is the path to victory. However, if the team isn't allowed to think about a win, the leader is left to say, "Do this, but there's no real point to it. We're not aiming for anything." Why would anyone follow a leader like that?
The league also had a rule stating that there would be no form of scorekeeping in any of the games, regardless of the age level. Scorekeeping measures a team's achievements, and what they must do to secure a win. The scoreboard is their inspiration to forge ahead towards excellence.
You can’t cut out winning from any positive values. Winning is the foundation of these virtues. Without the strong foundation to build upon, the other positive qualities come tumbling down.
In the end, the kids’ skills in the soccer league were poor, and the learning curve was virtually nonexistent. This league was teaching the art of having low expectations and delivering mediocrity. Worst of all, many parents bought into this horrible concept that would only teach their kids to accept losing without the ambition to improve.
It is not lost on me how some people bring this flawed theory to their businesses and fall flat on their faces. Don’t be afraid to rank your people based on performance. Score them. Show them where they are and what the destination is to become. Map out a strategy for them to get to their goals. Assess performance, identify mistakes, correct them, and give them the chance to improve. In turn, the performance of the entire team will increase.Keeping score, being competitive, and striving to win are key components to success in life, regardless of age or what a person is doing. Winning isn't everything, but it sure beats the alternatives – losing, mediocrity, and not competing at all.
Howard Cannon is America's most visible Restaurant Expert Witness. He has experience in State and Federal expert witness cases for both Plaintiffs and Defendants.