The Winner Takes It All – or do they?

It’s not just about winning, nor is it just about taking part.  So, what is it all about?

Long-term readers will know I am a fan of Liverpool Football Club, and have had somewhat of a journey in my forty years of following them.  Some success early on, but somewhat of a drought, in terms of a league title, for 29 years.

This season has been an exciting time as a Liverpool fan.  The team have played with style, suffered only one league defeat all season and have accumulated enough points to have won the league in 116 of the 119 years of the League (Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson won 13 Premier Leagues and never scored as many points).  However, Liverpool finished behind an even-better Manchester City and there are no prizes for second place.

Tyson Gay is the joint second-fastest 100m sprinter in history.  On 16th August 2009 Gay ran the 100m in 9.71 seconds – a personal best for him and, at the time, the third fastest time in history.  Even now, ten years later, only two other men have run faster than 9.71s.  Unfortunately for Gay, one of them is Usain Bolt, who finished the same race in 9.58s, setting a new World Record.  Gay ran a phenomenal race, but didn’t win.

Whether Liverpool, Tyson Gay, or any of us in our personal or business lives, sometimes we take part, break records with our effort, style and output but we still come second.  In sales, sport and business the winner often doesn’t take it all (thanks Abba for yet another blog title by the way). 

Urban myths suggest that modern children are protected from the winner-takes-all mentality and instead are rewarded just for taking part.  This seems wrong too.  Liverpool FC, Tyson Gay and me in a sales pitch last month didn’t just take part.  We gave our best, pushed our limits and set a new bar for performance.

That is what it is all about.  Success comes not only from winning, not just from taking part, but primarily from taking part to the best of our ability at the time.  Few readers of this newsletter are elite sports people, but in their daily lives they can:

  • Push for the win – however that is traditionally defined;
  • Always give their best – leave nothing “on the pitch” in any endeavour; and
  • Go for the win by always pushing to do one’s best – set personal records or reflect the best given current capabilities.

If you do this, you may sometimes come second, but you will always have cause to consider yourself a champion.

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