“Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.”

It’s a quote that is generally attributed to NFL coaching great, Vince Lombardi. (Although, apparently that’s debated in some circles.)

“Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.”

Regardless of who said it, it’s a school of thought that permeates sports and I used to believe it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m ULTRA competitive. I want to win at everything…badly. And, I got it honestly.

You see, when I was growing up, my parents weren’t exactly the “let me win” type. If I wanted a victory, I had to earn it. From checkers to “Go Fish,” I got my folks’ best effort. (I don’t think it was some type of life lesson; I just think that a passion to win is in our family DNA!)

Anyway, my first job out of college was teaching and coaching middle school boys’ basketball, and I was going to be the next Mike Krzyzewski. Honestly though, we did have a good team, and that probably was a bad thing considering my need to be knocked down a few pegs.

I remember during that season we were undefeated headed into a game against a team that the school had rarely, if ever, beaten. And given our early success, everyone was jazzed up.

Well, late in that game we had a small lead when a player on the other team committed a violation and the referee intentionally let it slide. It should have been our ball, but instead the other team got a do-over. I lost it…and two technical fouls later, I was out of the game.

In other words, when the game was on the line…when my team needed me most, I was gone.

I put my needs, desires, wants in front of those of the players. I was more focused on myself than on the people around me. You see, all I cared about was winning…because “it’s the only thing.”

You know, I’ve read a lot of quotes lately about leaders. Many of them have been around the fact that true leaders consider the success of others more important than their own. (Oh, by the way, we are all leaders, moms, dads, friends, co-workers and so on.)

This is really a picture of Jesus. I mean, He was the ultimate example of putting what’s best for others in front of what’s best for ourselves. And, we should follow His lead. I’m certain this is part of what He meant by “love your neighbor as yourself” as well.

Believe it or not, the team went on to win that game. And, you know, it would have been a whole lot more enjoyable if I had been on the court with them when the horn sounded.

In the words of the great Mr. Miyagi, “Daniel-san, never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose.”

So, how do you keep the success of those around you a priority? Do you have a story about a time when you won (or lost) the right way?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Elisca “your favorite sister in law” Roller

    Enjoyed this post!

    • Stephen

      Thanks, only I mean favorite sister-in-law!