Tuesday, June 17, 2008

* The Race of Your Life

This week (June 9th) we are vacationing in Florida, so my posts may be more introspective as I have time to stop, think and reflect on life, family, success and what is really important. My kid's good friends will be moving to another state next month, so we invited them along on our vacation. I have enjoyed watching their interactions.

As most 11 year old boys are apt to do, my son and his friend tormented their older sisters. The girls took it well. At 13, the girls are too "mature" to retaliate. From my perspective, the most interesting interactions were between the boys.

My son loves to wrestle. Whenever a boy comes over, 10 minutes does not pass before my son is trying to talk him into wrestling. At first we were concerned that he was just wanting to fight or use some of the Jujitsu techniques on some poor unsuspecting boy. But after watching some of these wrestling matches, I am less concerned. Before starting, my son explains the ground rules and the release signals, both verbal and non-verbal. The wrestling match becomes more of a teaching exercise where my son trains the other boy to execute some of the Jujitsu techniques he has learned.

When playing video games, the boys would write down the score after each round to determine who the winner was. I found it interesting that when the boys were playing the games my son was best at, he would tutor the other boy as he played. I knew what he was doing, but I wanted to hear him say it, so I asked, "why were you helping him when the score was so close, don't you want to win?" He replied, "Sure I do, but if my friend is not playing his very best, then the win wouldn't mean as much." Soon his friend starting tutoring my son on the games he was better at and the wins meant more to each boy when the other was playing at a higher level.

Society has dumbed things down where "everyone is a winner", but with a lower bar has anything really been accomplished? Winning is important, but how you win is even more important. I have never subscribed to winning at all costs. Win with class and build up your competitors. This will raise their level of play, force you to be better, and they may in turn build you up. Would you rather dominate an inferior opponent, or edge out someone who is running the race of their life?

There is nothing wrong with everyone being a winner, but let's raise, not lower, the bar and win on a higher level. If everyone finishes better than they started, then isn't everyone a winner?

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