But what about when you lose?
Being a winner is not just about when everything goes your way and you get the results that you expect. Watching the Butler Bulldogs from Indianapolis, Indiana last night was a hard pill to swallow. Through so much adversity and tribulation they kept winning. Every time it looked like they had received a knock-out punch from a larger, more talented team they found a way to fight their way back into the game and eventually get the win. This wasn’t a Cinderella story anymore. It was the story of determination and drive that proved any school anywhere with the right work ethic and team concept could get to the championship game. The magical part about their two year run is both times it made people believe the impossible was possible.
Yet, at the end of the day the Bulldogs got cold when they needed to be their hottest. Mack and Howard, the two team leaders had their worst offensive game in years. By the end of the contest when the closing buzzer sounded the game was not even close.
Does that mean that Butler was losers?
Some would say yes. I, on the other hand, beg to differ. Being a winner is not just collecting championship rings, cutting down nets, or reaching the mountain top.
Being a winner is a mindset that transcends the score of a basketball game. Being a winner goes beyond emotions and fans and coaches and players and newspaper columnist patting you on the back. Being a winner is shaking the hands of the team that beat you. Being a winner is knowing you’ve won before you walked on the court because you’re willing to give everything that you have to try to win.
I never fully understood winning playing little league and high school sports. Even though I’ve been on teams that went undefeated and teams that never won a game. Each year I only saw the scoreboard and the record.
Then something strange happened.
I began to look back over my brief athletic career and remembered the relationships that I built, the life lessons I learned, and the proudest moments that I amassed. The truth is the tears the frustration and the utter dismay that engulfed me during defeat didn’t define it… it only made me stronger.
At the end of the game, the final outcome did not determine my level of success.
I encourage anyone reading this message to keep clawing back in pursuit of giving your best.
Keep pressing for that next opportunity to reveal that you have the ingredients of a champion.
And, most importantly, keep a firm grip on the reality that you’re already a winner even after a lost.
The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.