What do you do when the odds are stacked so far against you that you appear to have no chance of winning.
What kind of thinking do you employ.
Do you tell someone who has no chance of winning that it’s all “just a mindset.”
Do you tell him or her to “be positive.”
I don’t think so.
None of these platitudes will help someone in the least if he’s up against someone who is head and shoulders better.
But there is something that will help – regardless of whether or not you’re the underdog or the highly chosen favorite to win it all.
That’s right. What I’m about to reveal will even help the person who’s already at the top, but lacks the drive to keep going because no one can give him a good race or put up a good fight.
More importantly though, it’ll help those who feel the pangs of defeat.
As you know, we can only have one winner in each race – or in each fight or game.
Unless, you redefine winning.
This past weekend, my daughter was in a swimming meet – and I was there supporting her – along with her coach.
In each of the five events she was entered – she was in the fastest heat.
But there was someone from another city – and she was faster than fast.
I looked at her times and she was four or five seconds better than anyone else in her heat.
My daughter wanted to win each race – but the chances of that happening were slim and none. So I decided to break the news to her before the races began.
“You’re in the fastest heat in all your races,” I began. “So that’s good. But I want you to know, up front, that there are some super fast times in each heat. One girl is at least four or five seconds faster than anyone else. This means that, based on time alone, your only real chance of winning is if she doesn’t show up or gets disqualified.”
My daughter looked at the sheets with me, taking in every word I spoke.
“So instead of winning the race, let’s focus on swimming your fastest times ever in each event. If you can beat all your old times today, I consider that a victory. What do you think?”
My daughter nodded in agreement, looked at all her times and the wheels in her mind started turning.
“It’s a great thing when you have super fast people to compete against,” I said. “And do you want to know why.”
“Because when you race the people who are the fastest, you end up swimming faster than ever. So it’s a good thing to share the same pool with them. They make you better.”
In her very first race, my daughter broke her previous best by 5.5 seconds. The winner of the race was still way ahead of everyone else, but knocking five and a half seconds off your best time is no small feat.
As the day continued, my daughter hit personal bests in every event she swam in. I was thrilled – and so was she.
Sometimes, in order to keep those whom you coach motivated, you need to redefine what “winning” is.
Winning is not just about what the timer says or what the score is. It’s not about who came in first, second, third or last.
It’s about whether or not you improved.
Winning is going out there and giving it all you’ve got.
If you’re willing to do that, then regardless of what the final tally shows, you are a winner.