What is Winning?

By Lloyd Graff

What is winning? 

We saw one of its faces Monday night when Nick Saban’s Alabama football team annihilated a solid Ohio State squad for Saban’s seventh National Championship. Saban seemed joyful and relieved. He knew he had the superior team and they showed it from the first snap. He acted truly happy for his players, who carried him off the field after they gatoraded him.

In business, winning supposedly comes when you meet a sales goal, move into a new building, or get a promotion. But I find those are rarely moments of elation for me.

Instead they usually feel like “is that all there is?” moments.

The joy I get is in the preparation. It is making the effort to get up the hill, falling down, pushing forward, and falling back again. The thrill comes not from making it to the pinnacle, but from looking back at the struggle and knowing you are almost where you think you want to get to. I have found that reaching the goal often means feeling a letdown.

As I have gotten older, I have come to realize the real prize is not the trophy, the money, the praise. The winning is in being in the moment–of feeling love or gratitude or recovery. Winning also comes from the act of creating something original or delicious or just crazy funny.

A sense of winning comes from helping other people feel better about themselves. The truly successful coach delights in the championship his or her players win for themselves. You can see it in Nick Saban. I saw it watching John Wooden coach UCLA basketball teams to 10 championships in 12 years. 

Coach Nick Saban after winning against Ohio State

It is harder to develop the sense of giving and sharing that make team sports so rewarding for participants, and even fans, when players see accomplishments as more of a vehicle to personal fame and even wealth. The truly superb coaches like Saban and Bill Belichick somehow exhibit the charisma and humanity to integrate the stars and the laborers into a common effort.

Personally I feel a sense of winning when I write a blog that feels true to me and says something worth saying. If it is original, has language that flows, and elicits good comments, that’s gravy. 

I hope you have found your own personal sense of winning today. It isn’t easy.

Questions: What was your last win?

Will the Browns or Bills win a second playoff game?

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6 thoughts on “What is Winning?

  1. Maureen

    Yesterday at the grocery store. I saw a couple & child carrying a violin & speaker in the parking lot. I went inside the store. When I came back outside I could hear music. The man was playing his violin and the child held a sign asking for money to help pay their rent. Listening to the music, thinking about their possible struggle, but knowing I could help, that was a win.

  2. Dan Ewing

    My win was the $10 bet that my son made on OSU in that game. He roots for the Buckeyes just to get under my skin. I am an old school Wolverine but his whole life (he’s 17) the Bucks have kicked our ass! Of course, the way they played against Clemson was amazing!
    I had my doubts about giving him those 8 points, but the oddsmakers knew the real deal.
    The lesson for him is that there are no sure things and that if you’re going to bet, you have to be prepared to lose sometimes.


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