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Is too much of winning a problem?

By G. Balasubramanian

“Hello, Shibit, what happened today?” Shibit’s mother was asking the question while he walked silently towards the staircase. She did notice Shibit going with his heads down in a depressing mood.

“I just lost narrowly.” He replied as he moved ahead. “Lost? How could that happen? Out of the last ten events you had won eight times. I thought you will keep your winning spree. I just can’t imagine or accept your defeat.” She turned towards him with an expression of anger. Shibit’s success was more a concern to his mother rather than to his own self. Shibit is not an isolated case of a person losing the target after a series of wins.

The myth of an ownership with victory appears fulfilling, but not desirable.

Raghav was totally upset when he returned from his office after glancing the promotion list which was released that day. His name was not there. But he forgot that he had out of turn promotions in the last three years. That cultivated an expectation in his mind that every time a promotion list comes out, his name must be there! Raghav wanted to pick up an issue with the management, least realizing that a host of others do deserve to be considered for growth based on their skills and performance.

The myth of an ownership with victory appears fulfilling, but not desirable.

Every organization has one or the other person who can be branded with the title “Mr. Excuse” – who have always a reason for offering an explanation to their team leaders –

Winning indeed makes someone happy. It is an acknowledgement of the efforts, talents, and the quality of work performed by a person. However, the work of an individual need not always be targeted towards or designed for a win: and that too within short intervals of time. It pushes a lot of dopamine into the brain and does nurture the pleasure center of the brain; but once someone yields to a culture of mind that leads to an addiction for success, even small turbulences in their pursuit do cause mental agony, depression and leads the person to a self-defeating mode. The number of cases where people tend to harm their lives including a suicide after facing a single defeat calls for education in life skills at all levels. “Winners don’t quit; Quitters don’t win” is not intended to address the achievement of the goal, but the process of engagement with the goal.

Says Vince Lombardi, the American football coach “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

Several people with a continuous track record of success get into the status of a celebrity. But they fail to realize that sustaining that record is extremely important if they must sustain their status. History is evidence to the fact that a few of them tend to fall from grace along with their singular defeat. Hence, relating performances to achievements rather than skills, talents, passion, and purpose appears less rewarding.

Too many wins do not necessarily lead one to abundance. Instead, it might lead the individual to feel a sense of superiority and develop an ego, which might impact their social consciousness and isolate the person from the group. They become aggressive and vigilant to see that no one else overpowers them for any reason; they become intolerant, jealous, oppressive, and impatient.

Says Leo Tolstoy in one of his essays, “I sit on a man's back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible… except by getting off his back.”

What are the possible impacts of successive wins on an individual?

1. Becoming a victim to mediocrity

Too many wins tend to place the individual in a comfort zone and trains the brain to a pattern making. In the absence of adequate challenges, their urge to perform differently, urge to experiment and urge to be a little more enterprising get marginalized. It might offer a resistance to the learning curve and become a speed-breaker to growth. One tends to play with the existing techniques in different capsules to sustain their current level. They tend to make more noise than play the music. They tend to make compromises with their means to reach their ends or to sustain their identity.

2. Developing a sense of greed

Too many wins tend to create an obsession about the individual’s prerogatives, and they start making claims listing the history of the past. Some try to engage with unfair practices or pressure tactics to sustain their brand levels using methods which are non-professional and not based on real time performances. They tend to suffocate with a sense of poverty and seek gratification for self-pity. One needs to understand the implication of the saying of “You were not born a winner and you were not born a loser. You are what you make yourself to be” says Lou Holtz, a former American football coach.

3. Increasing non-compatibility with the existing environment

Repeated success does boost the level of confidence of an individual. The comfort level with the existing domains of operation encourages them to seek higher peaks of excellence for growth and achievement. As they start becoming conscious of their skill sets and competencies, they look for elevations that would lead them to newer brands. This urge often forces them to lose their level of satisfaction with the existing environment and the level of non-compatibility creates an internal stress. Thus, they remain unhappy despite their history of success. “True abundance isn’t based on our net worth, it’s based on our self-worth,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, one of the celebrated authors from New York.

4. Vertical growth does not necessarily scaffold success.

Though the desires of growth are inevitable and need to be supported, they are not indicative of the skill sets one required for a different universe of operation. More often, they become learners in the pristine environment. This leads to psychological conflicts between what they had been and what they intend to be. They often fail to understand that the winning competencies of the individual in the past environment may not assure them of success at different situation or all positions and universe of operation.

Dr. Shyam was a most sought professor and academician in the college and the university. He was known for his leadership in research and his outstanding contribution was well acknowledged. However, when he was elevated to head the college, he was miserable, and he decided to revert to his original position in a year. Several such cases are on record.

This leaves us with a question whether one should not aim for too many wins. To make a case for that would be incorrect especially in a competitive and consumerist environment. In a world trying to seek and establish a brand by any means any advocacy for moderations on winning spree may not hold water. Hence, trying to be always successful is indeed a welcome trait. But as Daisuke Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher from Japan points out “Determination to win is the better part of winning.” The number of counts is just a matter of record.