“There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.” – Garth Stein
My journey started in a 10ft x 10ft room in an abysmally small house I used to live in, back in Calcutta, India. I slept on the floor – shared it with my father, mother, and sister. I remember lying awake at night (often) on the mattress that smelt of the abject poverty we had to live in and cover myself up with a blanket made up of my aspirations for and dreams of a better life. Using my hands as my pillow, I used to stare at the ceiling and think to myself, “I have to make a difference”. I used to dream about changing my life for good and making a positive impact in the lives of my family members.
For the longest time, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of separate baths, living, dining, study, and bedrooms. Every time a guest came over, I found myself sleeping at my neighbor’s; the local community pond used to be my shower space and the community tap my source of drinking water. Life wasn’t very kind to me; however, I was not ready to accept that it was supposed to be like this. It wasn’t my destiny; my destiny would be written by me over the next years leading to where I am now and will continue to be written as long as I persevere to do so.
I wouldn’t let my thoughts – and the feelings they led to – dictate my course of action. I strongly believe that simple knowledge of how our thoughts and the associated feelings work, can help us in experiencing both sides of (both) winning and losing, and at the same time, assist us in staying in touch with our true (inner) selves.
This concept is not a new one and has been used for thousands of years in competitions in the eastern part of the world. You must be familiar with the term ‘martial arts’. Although it is a sport, a very physical and competitive one at that, it would be referred to as ‘arts’. The objective or goal of such sporting arts is not to defeat or destroy your opponents, but rather to do and be your best while you honor, respect and love your most worthy opponent. However, the presence of an opponent is indispensable.
This realization was made centuries ago: without an opponent, martial artists had no way to demonstrate the skills they had taken the time to hone and master. Opponent-based competition allows both participants to demonstrate the best of their abilities, while engaging thoroughly (giving their 100 percent) and at the same time, thoroughly enjoying the chance to compete. It is not in winning or losing, but in competing that these athletes/artists are able to demonstrate their level of expertise.
Vince Lombardi’s efforts towards the correction of the quote wrongly attributed to him, “Winning isn’t everything; it is the only thing” to what he used to endorse, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is”, reflects this philosophy. ‘Wanting to win’ is glaringly distinct from ‘winning is everything’; the distinction lies in the power of attention and intention. Our intention should always be to do our best – (whether we) win, lose or draw. On those days when the outcome is other than we would like it to be, we are not meant to take it personally. We give our best, learn from our mistakes and simply get better as we grow.
I have a motto: “Make it personal; don’t take it personally.” What I mean is that I want to do things to the best of my ability, I want to make it my business to give all that I can, while at the same time remembering that, whether I succeed or fail is not a reflection of who I truly am, it is just the result of my best efforts at that time. So keep making your best and results will come. Love & Light
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