When Winning is Worthless Written By Charity Butler
An ant scurries across the brick-dusted ground. The HD camera capturing its image zooms in so closely that each of his half-a-dozen legs are creeping and crawling in clear focus. (Gross, I know.)
The shot begins to expand as the camera slowly zooms out, and the ant disappears completely.
It then becomes evident the brick dust is surrounded by grass. From the ever-expanding aerial view, an entire softball field and surrounding stadium gradually enter the picture. As the scene expands, surrounding buildings and highways begin to appear. Hovering over the city, the view is unexpectedly incredible.
Welcome to the big picture! After experiencing the view from the sky, a shift in perspective is inevitable.
When it comes to softball, effective leaders must grasp the importance of a big-picture perspective. Leaders should be relentless competitors and committed to winning. Of course we all want to win! Hopefully we work to win and push those around us to do the same.
If winning is all we live for, though… if it is all we have, we are most definitely out of balance, both as players and as people. Winning is ant-sized. There is so much more!
Realize the ultra-zoom setting produces a narrow scope that would make seeing an entire city impossible, even in a lifetime. Zooming out, though, brings the whole into focus in a matter of moments.
To regain balance as leaders who love to complete, we must be willing to sometimes zoom out and broaden our perspectives.
According to her Facebook page, on Monday, April 15, 2013, Laura Wellington was half of a mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the now infamous explosions occurred. Knowing her family was waiting for her at the finish-line, she frantically tried calling them. After panicking for minutes that probably felt more like decades, she finally heard a familiar voice on the other end of the phone, a voice assuring her that those she loved were safe.
In a flood of relief and exhaustion, she fell to the ground physically, mentally and emotionally spent. In the chaos, two strangers befriended her asking if she was ok. Laura assured them that she and her family were all fine. In her words, “The man then asked me if I finished, to which I nodded ‘no.’ He then proceeded to take the medal from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me ‘you are a finisher in my eyes.’ I was barely able to choke out a ‘thank you’ between my tears.”
“I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time. This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be ok.”
What a moving story!
To be completely honest, my first thought upon reading her account was, “this man is going to finish the race with her! Girl, finish the race! I mean, you trained for months, and you were so close to finishing. Completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment… keep going!”
In that split second of disappointment, I caught myself viewing the situation from the wrong perspective. I forced myself to zoom out and more accurately recall the context of her situation. People lost life and limb in a matter of moments. Life literally blew up in her face, and I was worried that Laura did not finish the race?!
This is the point when winning, competing and even finishing are all completely worthless. In moments like these, we realize that who we are and those we love matter more than what we accomplish or accumulate. Yet, many times we run over others in our laser-focused attempts to win and achieve.
“We will itch inside until we live for more than the gathering,” shares Jennie Allen, author of the book Anything. We will itch inside until we live for more than the gathering of wins, awards, or praise. Although valuable, we must expand our view beyond simply winning.
“The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.” – Mariva Navratilova
In light of the Boston bombings and other tragedies that happen daily throughout our country and around the world, life is too short to live for a moment of victory and nothing else.
What, then, is the answer?
Zoom out! When we intentionally perceive the big picture, we quickly regain a balanced perspective that equips us to effectively lead others. Somehow breathing seems less burdened, and life feels a little lighter. We are capable of valuing people for who they are and not only for what they can do for us.
Ultimately, as players we forget much of the information we spend hours drilling into our heads and bodies. However, the physical and mental challenges that the game of softball provides prepare us to be strong leaders even when our playing days are long gone. If we are willing to zoom out and learn more than just softball skills, the lessons we learn continually echo in our lives for future years and even decades.
Learning only what to do on the field is short-sighted, but developing a willingness to learn life lessons through the sport is the mark of true excellence in a leader. According to Super Bowl Champion (as both player and coach) Mike Ditka, “Success is about having, excellence is about being.”
We are human be-ings, not human do-ings. When our focus is on developing the best in ourselves and those around us, the individual honors and awards usually increase too. Zooming out allows us to more effectively lead our teams on the field. We are in tune with the aerial view, rather than stressed over ant-like details.
Zooming out allows us to more clearly understand and connect with teammates. We are more level-headed and better equipped to play our best and lead others to do the same. Selfishly, this mindset also allows us to truly enjoy the process, too!
Commit to becoming a leader of broad perspective. Do not wait for the dreaded moments when winning becomes worthless to recognize that our teammates matter; our coaches matter; friends matter; families matter. People matter.
Charity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.
Charity, a Two-Time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, played Division I softball at the University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduation, she launched a professional softball career that has taken her across the U.S. and literally around the world.
Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.
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