If you’re not first, you’re last

When it comes to a good competition, whether it’s trampoline dodgeball, air hockey, NCAA bracket pools, bowling or anything else, I sling around some serious trash talk (even if I’m terrible at the sport) and I really want to win.

When I lose, especially if it’s a tactical error on my part, I can really beat myself up. I tend to replay it in my mind and think of how I could have done it differently. I have a really hard time letting it go.

As Ricky Bobby’s father, Reese, told him in Talladega Nights, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” (You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a huge Will Farrell fan…)

For those of us that are competitive, we can literally tie our self-worth to our ability to win. We don’t admit that or go around announcing it to the world, but subconsciously that is often what is going on.

This past weekend I was playing a sport called flyball with my border collies in Talladega (fitting, right?!). The team I was captaining lost the first place title on Saturday by one heat because I didn’t make a last minute change in dogs. It’s just a race, it’s just a game. We were there to have fun and I did – it was a lot of fun! But I spent about 24 hours replaying that race in my mind and getting upset at myself every time I thought about it.

I’m a naturally competitive person and that isn’t going to change. It’s who I am and what makes me unique. Having drive and determination has helped me in many different areas of my life. But if it’s not kept in check, it can wreak havoc in my life and completely steal my joy.

If you’re like me and struggle with taking losses personally, it’s important to remember:

  • I am not the outcome of this competition (i.e., I’m not a winner/loser)
  • It’s a game. The only purpose is to have fun. Winning is just icing on the cake.
  • I am infinitely blessed in my life. (Then go spend some time enjoying those blessings!)

With that in mind, go make your picks for the NCAA tournament!!!

And, good luck, because I still intend to win 🙂


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