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What You Lose When You're Focused on Winning

It's the middle of summer, and summertime fun is in full-swing at Handcrafted HoneyBee Headquarters (aka: our house). Our two sons have a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for pool-time, ice cream, and outdoor adventures.

These boys are thick as thieves. They're less than two years apart, and they love playing together. But like typical siblings, they also know just how to get under each other's skin and drive each other crazy.

One of the biggest sources of friction is when one of the boys wins a contest. And everything is a contest. Everything.

"My tower is taller than yours!"

"I colored faster than you!"

"I slept longer than you!"

"My toes wiggle better than yours!"

(These are all statements that have actually been made in this house.)

Maybe it's because I'm always the referee and peacemaker in these contests, but I've started to notice how the narrative of "winners & losers" has begun to creep into the public consciousness as well.

You can find it in news stories: from the economy (A Weaker Yen: Who are the Winners and Losers?) to entrepreneurship (Can Nice Guys Ever Win in Silicon Valley?) to STEM education (Why are Some Countries Better at Science & Technology?).

Some newspapers even have a weekly Winners & Losers column. And I'm still not exactly sure what Charlie Sheen was supposedly "winning".

I know that I slip into that mindset from time to time. I feel discouraged when I compare my private struggles to others who are out there finding success. I let my desire for "winning" at business drive me to push the limits of my health & wellness.

But then I start to think about the girls that our business serves. We are dedicated to Inspiring Girls to Dream Big®. We want to help the next generation of young women to use creativity and analytical thinking to solve problems in their world.

How can they solve problems if they're more focused on winning than on helping others? How can they unleash their creative ideas if they're too afraid of losing to risk failure?

Don't get me wrong. There are lots of situations where you can appropriately determine a winner—An election. A race. A game.

But most things in life are more complicated than that. How do you decide who wins at learning? Who wins at creative expression? Who wins at growing up? Who wins at relationships? Who wins at life?

If we want to inspire our children to dream big for their lives, we need to encourage innovation, risk-taking & exploration. If we want them to develop groundbreaking ideas & world changing creations, we need to show them the value of collaboration & community.

If we want to raise the next generation to find self-worth because of who they are—rather than expecting a prize for every accomplishment and feeling shame for every time things don't work out—we need to show them that life is more than a collection of wins & losses.

Cultivating success goes far beyond mere winning. It comes from a place of joy, of wonder, of curiosity, of hope.

And the prize is a better world, for our girls & for everyone.

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