‘I was a bully….”
“A ruthless desire at win at all costs…”
“..did not feel bad…did not feel wrong….did not feel I was cheating…”
These are some of Lance Armstrong’s quotes that have hit the headlines following his recent confessional interview. Amidst the ‘free-for-all’ dissection of this fallen idol, there is one positive thought that hits me – thank God for the non-flamboyant average Joe who gives his all to excellence, without losing his soul to be perfect or the winner, come what may!
Our culture seems to be obsessed with winning. ‘Do whatever it takes to win’ – we hear it at school, at college, at work, in business. Does it signify positive determination? When and how does it then slide to the inflexible “Failure is not an option”? Or to the dangerous “If you are not willing to skirt the edges, then you do not want to win bad enough”? Or to the condemned “You are a loser if you don’t win”?
Sure, competition is healthy. It fosters efficiency, productivity, increased choices and perhaps an improved standard of living. Sure, there is something to be said for stretching your boundaries. It fulfills you and lends pride to the achievement. But when competitiveness turns into a brutal force that decimates competition instead of overtaking it; when it mercilessly rapes the self-confidence of those who want no part of this race instead of letting them be – it is time for a relook.
Most mountain-climbing accidents, they say, happen on the descent. Not surprising at all! When ferocity is the only emotion in the armory during ascent, the descent does tend to get catastrophic without the gentler strings of the parachute! An irrational fixation on outcomes alone leaves us dangerously stranded without the safety net of integrity.
Let me get a little cheeky and say – ‘winning at any cost is for losers!’ The price to be paid anyway makes them internally bankrupt. Why look for a sharp edge only to bleed by it? “Fire-in-the-belly”? Ulcer is the only visual I can conjure for this inane phrase!
So my friends, I am not going to delude myself that I will bring 100% perfection to all that I do. Maybe I will allow the heart to lose a little, let go a little, and not give a hoot a little if some of what I do is average. In fact I am going to find at least one activity a day that I do not need to do my best. If McDonald’s can respect the need for and succeed on the ‘quick-and-average’ philosophy, I ain’t reinventing the wheel!
At least this way, I will clearly see the lines I will not cross to win at any cost.
For you see, even with a noble vision, the truth is we sometimes need nothing beyond the simplicity of the moment!