What if you could only win once?

Hatching Mayflies.

I woke up this morning with one of those strange thoughts; what if we were only allowed to win once?

What win would you choose for yourself?

“Winning” is one of those concepts, like “Growth”, that has entered the lexicon as somehow a universally good thing that should be done as much as possible. But they both carry a price, as we see specifically this week as we look at the consequences of “winnng”, of “Mission Accomplished,” in Afghanistan, and more generally and more precipitously in a long history of unconstrained growth creating an existential crisis.

“Winning” is very much a “horizon 1”, “finite game” concept. Fine for sports or music competitions and other things of transient importance, but not for things with significant systemic consequences.

What if everything leading up to winning was preparation, and everything after it using the victory to help others achieve their wins? What if we regarded our win as the start of the work, not the end of it?

Winning, like leadership, puts us in the spotlight, and aside from the warm glow of acclaim, bestows a vast responsibility.

So now that we’ve won, what are we going to do with that victory – buy a sports car and an expensive house, start a change we want to see in the world, or use the experience to help somebody else bring their change about?

Losing is a much more powerful experience than winning. It confers greater learning, contributed by the winner, and the feelings last longer as we change to achieve our own win. Losing makes us reflect – we know what we wanted to happen, but what actually did? Why was that, what have we learned, and what will we do as a result? Learning in order to win.

I think serious winning is more like a Mayfly life cycle (Two years of preparation, over in less than a day.) That sort of winning has a horizon three, or infinite game, quality to it. Winning can either be short term consumable or the thing that defines our lives.

What do you want winning to mean?

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