Value the Ride, Not Just the Outcome

I always enjoy watching the post-game interviews of athletes who have just won championships. Sometimes they’re exuberant. Other times they’re stunned and almost in a daze. Some of them are at a loss for words, remarking that it “hasn’t sunk in yet.” When that’s the case, I often sense a hint of disappointment that they expected a “rush” that’s somehow elusive.

Sometimes when you win, you’ll feel the “thrill of victory”—and there’s nothing like it. In other instances when you reach a goal you’ve worked hard for, you might feel strangely subdued. Then, there are times when you don’t win, but your mood is upbeat. You expected to be bummed, but for some reason, you’re not.

Why are there so many different reactions?

One reason may be that when it comes to life experiences, the journey often has more value than reaching the goal itself. This is because effort, perseverance, character building, and teamwork all play a central role, regardless of the final outcome.  Winning isn’t everything. Not even close.

 

           Society places a great deal of emphasis on winning. Because of this, many people falsely believe the outcome is all that matters. Their enjoyment is an all-or-nothing proposition. It needn’t and shouldn’t be this way!

           I’ll never forget the student I met in Bogor, Indonesia who asked me the following question after my talk on leadership: “Mr. Dennis, I am someone who only enjoys the destination. Can you share wisdom to teach me how to enjoy the process of life?” I was blown away. That was a deep and mature question from such a young person! She was starting to recognize there is a bigger picture to pretty much everything in life. The question is, how to see it?

During my coaching years, I often felt more satisfaction after a one-point loss with our best effort than after a meager five-point victory against the weakest opponent.  I know it was because I held on to this one truth: the moral victory of doing your best can have just as much lasting value as an actual win. It’s not ultimately about whether or not you win or lose. In fact, sometimes your biggest losses can be the catalyst for something amazing! 

Expectations play a big role too. If you expect to win or achieve a goal and you succeed, the response is more subdued than otherwise. That’s why the thrill of an expected victory doesn’t have a very long shelf life.

Do yourself a big favor and savor the ride just as much as the outcome. You’ll experience the joy of your effort so much more!

                                                         

Have you ever had a lukewarm reaction to a victory and a surprisingly good feeling about a loss? Why do you suppose that is? Was the effort or the outcome more important? We’d love to hear from you! And, as always, please share us on your Facebook or Twitter, and encourage your friends to sign up for our email newsletter.

 

Embrace Change as an Opportunity

Change happens—predictably or unexpectedly and happily or not. And, each of us handles it differently. Unfortunately, some are so uncomfortable with change that they’d prefer a mundane status quo to the uncertainty of something different. Because they don’t know how things will turn out, they expect the worst. That’s too bad—because change can be incredibly positive!

           

This year’s graduates are about to experience the greatest decade of change in their lifetime. Some of it will be voluntary and some of it not. Some of it will be clear and some of it will involve highly uncertain outcomes. Some of it will be easy to handle and some will be highly stressful. It’s all part of the journey.

        Think about some key changes that may be in store for your grads in the next several years of their life…

·      They will choose—and change—their college major/and or career path, maybe several times over! By the way, this is the norm. The anxiety associated with choosing your major /career is considerable—and it gets worse each time.

·      They will probably change jobs five to seven times in their lifetime. They’ll be dealing with new employers, new managers, new jobs to learn, new people to work with, and potential relocations and new friends to make.

·      They’ll likely move several times, whether for long periods or for short-term assignments. The assimilation involved in each situation is significant.

·      They’ll most likely date several different people before perhaps settling down into marriage. Since there is much more at stake than during high school dating, the pressure is that much greater.

·      They’ll very likely deal with a death in their family

·      They’ll buy their first house

·      They may be even blessed with children (which, in terms of “change,” will    make many of the above seem like pocket change by comparison!)

             You can use this list to help open up a conversation with them about what may lie ahead. Share your stories about how you faced these or similar changes. Change doesn’t seem as intimidating when you know someone else has navigated it successfully.

Since life is so unexpected, it’s wise to view change as a constant and become as adaptable as possible. That goes for all of us, no matter what season of life we’re in!

In the end, we all have a choice how to respond to change. We can either withdraw in fear or we can embrace it as an opportunity for growth, adventure, and preparation for even bigger things down the road. Sure, change will be unsettling at times, especially when it involves relocation and “starting from scratch.” However, there are countless examples of people who have endured enormous upheavals that proved transformational and purposeful.   So, encourage the young people in your life to be confident and courageous—and take it to heart yourself. Take change by the reins and make the most of it!

                                               

How do you react to change? Do you view it as a time of fear or as an opportunity to shine and learn? Why? Share your experiences and insights with us by commenting below; we’d love to hear from you!

Adversity Can Be Preparation for Greater Things

I spent last Sunday on the edge of my seat, watching the Masters. I was thrilled to see Australia’s Adam Scott take the prize under extraordinary pressure. What an honor for him to be a first time Masters’ winner AND the first Aussie to claim that title! It was especially heartening after his devastating loss at the Open Championship last summer—when he bogeyed his last four holes to hand the Claret Jug to a shocked Ernie Els. It just goes to prove that when you get knocked down, you don’t have to stay down. And, that an even bigger prize might be just around the corner.

 

One of life’s greatest adventures is seeing what becomes of our trials. It may take years for us to realize it, but our toughest times might be preparation for something better. Periods of adversity don’t always turn out rosy, but it happens more often than you’d think. You just don’t know it while you’re living through it.

We saw another classic example of this in Louisville’s dramatic Elite Eight victory over Duke. During the game, star guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome leg break that left other players and bystanders in tears, some literally gasping for breath and composure at the sight. In the gut-wrenching aftermath, Kevin kept repeating, “Go win it, go win it.”

 

 And, win it they did. After regaining their composure, the Cardinals delivered a second half performance for the ages, beating the Blue Devils 85-63. They would go on to win it all with an incredible victory against Michigan…with Kevin Ware offering inspiration from the bench. The victim became the encourager.

 

 When you’re experiencing a personal trial, it pays to consider that some good might come of it. In fact, it’s one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned through the years—some of our toughest times might be preparation for something better. Consider these real life examples:

  • My wife’s health challenges have prepared her to mentor others
  • Blowing my calculus final made me aware of my math limitations and motivated me to select a different (and better fitting) major
  • A difficult investment performance period taught me important lessons about humility and how to service clients in tough situations
  • The employer who didn’t hire me conducted massive layoffs in the next year
  • If my former girlfriends hadn’t broken up with me, I wouldn’t have married my wife!

 These are but a few examples of life’s lemons turning into lemonade.

 

Don’t let adversity cause you to lose your edge. Remember, sometimes our greatest wins come from enduring our greatest challenges!

                                             

Consider some of the major life trials you’ve experienced. Are you able to see some good that came out of those periods? Can you think of people you know who have experienced significant adversity? How has it shaped them for the better? Share your questions and experiences with our online community by commenting below; we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Celebrate Your Victories and Learn from Your Defeats

 


This week I had the distinct privilege of visiting an alternative high school that serves the neediest and most challenged of students. My conversation with the principal—a man who has given his life to reach and impact disadvantaged youth and help turn their lives around—left me inspired and encouraged. His stories of the ups and downs of working with that student population reminded me of the introduction to “ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” when the narrator would dramatically announce, “…the thrill of VICTORY and the agony of DEFEAT.” Seeing a homeless student from a background of gangs and violence graduate from high school—victory! Seeing another go back to the streets—defeat.


No matter where our life path takes us, each of us experiences both victories and defeats. Whether it’s sports, contests, career, dating, or school, you win some and you lose some. Most of us don’t have too much difficulty with the winning part.


But does the fact that we don’t always win mean we’ve lost? Perhaps, narrowly defined, the answer may be “Yes,” but in most cases the answer is emphatically “No.” Many of our “losses” prepare us for our victories later on—that is, if we choose to learn from our defeats.
           

Vince Lombardi of Green Bay Packer fame used to say that winning “is the only thing.” Famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, on the other hand, used to simply ask his players to play their best, and that was good enough for him.


I’m probably more in John Wooden’s camp (despite growing up 20 miles from Green Bay!). Winning may be an important goal, but I don’t believe we’re losers if we don’t finish in first place. The key is to learn from a defeat and use it as input for the next practice and for future strategy.
 

Turning a defeat into a victory can be positively transformational. One  example that comes to my mind is a  program I heard of recently in which teen moms reach out to younger girls and share their stories. With unique authenticity and perspective, they can encourage their younger peers to make wise and strategic life choices.  It’s already making a big difference.


Humbly celebrate your victories and see how you can gain from your defeats. It will position you to do better the next time, and it certainly will take some of the sting out of your losses!

 
How have you handled your victories and losses? Do you view a short-term loss as a learning experience to help achieve greater heights in the future? Are you satisfied with the outcome if you did your best?

I Still Believe in Happy Endings

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth

 may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Walt Disney


 
We’re just now coming out of the holiday season where the focus is often on joy, peace, love, and hope. That’s all well and good on a Christmas card, but we can’t gloss over the fact that, in the midst of all the cheer and goodwill, some people are going through very tough times. In our every day world, many are dealing with any number of personal tragedies or crises that are magnified during the supposedly festive season. Financial hardships. Divorce. Illness. Job loss. Estranged family members. You name it. Bad news can come at any time to you or me.
 
One of life’s greatest adventures is seeing what becomes of our trials. At our bleakest hour, it’s hard to fathom that something good might come of our challenges. Often, though, this is precisely what happens.
 
One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned (but certainly didn’t appreciate when I was younger), is that good things often arise from our most difficult times. It may take years for us to realize it, but our toughest times might be preparation for something better. Consider these real life examples:

  • My wife’s health challenges prepared her to mentor others who are experiencing similar issues.
  • Bombing my calculus final made me aware of my math limitations and motivated me to select a different (and better fitting) major.
  • A difficult investment performance period taught me important lessons about humility and how to service clients in tough situations.
  • A heart attack victim’s extended hospital stay gave him the needed time to reflect on his life and repair broken relationships.
  • The employer who didn’t hire me conducted massive layoffs in the next year.

 
Periods of adversity don’t always turn out rosy, but it happens more often than you’d think. You just don’t know it while you’re living through it.  Experience tells me that, more often than not, something good will come from something bad—even if it’s a needed life lesson. That’s why, even when things look bleak, I still hope for—and believe for—a happy ending.
 
When you’re experiencing a personal trial, it pays to consider that it might be preparation for something greater. After all, our greatest character growth comes from enduring life’s greatest challenges!
                                                                     
Consider some of the major life trials you’ve experienced. Are you able to see some good that came out of those periods? How was your character affected by it? Can you think of people you know who have experienced significant adversity? How has it shaped them for the better? Share your experiences and encouragement with our online community; we’d love to hear from you!