Sometimes it feels as if life is one big competition. There is always a struggle for power. Everybody wants to be the boss. Everybody needs to be the best, the fastest, the most successful, the richest or the most popular person in the room. Even when you find yourself on the road, everybody needs to be in front all the time. And heaven forbid if someone else gets in front of you.
No wonder many people today are living by the motto of “second place is not good enough; it is only being the first loser”. Maybe that’s you, but if so, maybe you need to re-think that philosophy. Living by this motto opens the door to serious mental issues, psychological problems and stress.
Not Good Enough.
As we came to the end of the Olympic Games recently, our Olympic team returned to South Africa. One of these athletes also took part in the previous Olympic Games and returned home with several gold medals from the previous Games. This year though, he came back with silver.
Personally, I thought he still performed incredibly well. Obviously it is a bit of a disappointment for him not getting gold every time, but in my opinion it can only serve as inspiration to improve again in a positive way.
Yet, as I listened to a radio interview with him, he almost sounded apologetic about his ‘bad performance’. He admitted that he will work harder to prevent this from happening again next time around.
Now, maybe I misunderstood him or I missed something somewhere……but to be apologetic about your ‘not so good performance’…..while you still came home with silver?
I totally get it if you come back and admit that competition was tough and that you got beaten by someone else. Tell us how that inspires you to change your training routine so that you can beat the competition again next time.
I am not talking about if you just messed up. But feeling bad after being beaten fair and square? Thinking you have to explain yourself and make excuses?
How many athletes from all over the world took part and couldn’t even go home with any medal. How many athletes dream about taking part on Olympic level and didn’t even make the team? Which one of us can point a finger at any of these athletes, medal or no medal? They are the elite of the elite if you want to call it that.
To Be The Best Doesn’t Guarentee Happiness.
To always be the best, always being first, is no guarantee to happiness. In a recent article on Empowerment Moments Blog, Yvonne I. Wilson wrote a moving article; How God Can Bring You from Rock Bottom to Mountaintop Faith. In this article she writes how Martin Phelps has hit rock bottom some time ago. Thankfully his life has changed for him to be back on top again.
We do not always realize under what pressure these people are. We see the glitz and glamour-side of the lifestyles of these super athletes, celebrities and other famous people. Yet, we miss the blood, sweat and tears, the agony, the exhaustion and stress they have to cope with behind the scenes.
It is sad when I think about how many times I have seen parents pushing – no, even forcing their children – to perform and achieve. Having been involved in sports as an instructor for many years, I have often seen this happening. Often these parents would push their children to the limits to achieve something the parent could never do themselves. Living your dream through your child? How fair can that be?
These children then grow up, accepting this idea of ‘second place is just being the first loser’ being the norm. That is the only difference they know between being a winner or a loser. The problem with this mentality is that there will always be someone who can beat you.
Even if you take gold at the Olympic Games, there is no guarantee that you will be able to repeat it next time. Does that make you a loser when you have to settle for silver next time? But we get haunted by the idea that we don’t want to be second-best. We don’t want to settle for second-best.
Conquer Yourself First
We never want to ‘settle for second best’ in anything. We always have to be the best and we want to have the best. It’s always the best or nothing. Living by the motto of ‘second place is just the first loser’ can easily lead you down the path of frustration and even destruction.
Either the best or nothing, can easily lead to ‘being the best, or being destroyed’.
Where do we draw the line? Everybody cannot win all the time? When can we feel ‘good enough’? When will enough be enough?
Maybe it’s time to step outside of ourselves for a change. Everybody wants to be a winner. When it comes to competition, everybody wants to win. So, especially for a Christian athlete it can be normal to ask for victory when praying before a match. In essence, there is nothing wrong with that, but what about the competition who also might be Christian and asking for victory in the same match? What is your definition of victory?
Who should God listen too? Whose prayer is going to be answered? Does this mean God has to favor one competitor or team over the other? No, not at all. We should start to take responsibility too, and not leave everything up to God all the time.
You see, that is exactly the problem. We tend to bounce from one extreme to the other. We either get obsessed with our own abilities and greatness, or we become passive and blame everything on God.
First of all we need to realize that each one of us is running our own race. Yes, we should run to win. We should strive for excellence. But we run our own race. If you cannot conquer over yourself first, how can you conquer over anybody else?
You Don’t Have To Settle For Second-Best.
When praying for victory, you should be praying for wisdom, clarity of mind, good health or whatever else you might need to perform at your peak in the given situation.
Then you need to take responsibility and practice self-discipline. You need to do whatever you have to do in order to be the best you can be. Perform at your best level, both mentally and physically. If you are a business person, practice honesty and maintain high moral values. Be the best business person you can be. Strive for excellence.
If someone beats you, learn from the experience. Gain knowledge and improve yourself. Getting beaten does not make you a loser. It provides you with an opportunity to learn and grow.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) says “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Taking second place in a worldly race or competition – competing for a worldly prize / crown that will not last forever- doesn’t make you a loser. As long as you have done your best before your Creator, you are a winner of an eternal crown. You don’t have to settle for second best in anything.
No Matter How Bad Your Situation Is, Don’t Give Up. Miracles Still Happen.
To be the best, always being first, sometimes becomes such an obsession that people do themselves more harm than good. On the sports arena people injure themselves or they start using illegal substances that can cause permanent damage and in severe cases even death. In business, people drive themselves to complete exhaustion and they sacrifice much needed rest. They push themselves until they sacrifice their health
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you gone down this road maybe and you don’t know how to get back on track?
First you have to recognize the problem. Secondly you have to make a conscious decision to change. You need to change your thinking. It’s nice to hold that gold medal, but a medal cannot guarantee your wellbeing.
All the training you did, applied with wisdom to get you in your own peak form, will have lasting benefits – medal or no medal. If you can maintain that healthy lifestyle, it will serve you well through your whole life.
If you always feel driven to do the biggest deals in your company, it can lead to exhaustion and stress. But if you can be consistent, and be known for doing good business – year in and year out, it can provide you with dignity, respect and even financial security.
What is your definition of victory? Fame and fortune, which is only temporary or long lasting benefits that you can enjoy for life? How would you like to enjoy tranquility, peace and health?
Do you think it will take a miracle to enjoy such a lifestyle? Then read How to Receive Miracles by Kenneth Copeland.
See the Bigger Picture
It is easy to get caught up in the moment. All the attention, the fame and the status can get overwhelming. We can easily lose focus of the bigger picture and start focusing on ourselves. We start focusing on our own glory, our talents, our abilities, our gifts and it eventually starts getting the better of us.
If we can remember that it’s not all about us, but to glorify our Creator, it will be easier to maintain balance in our priorities. As I heard Brian Houston from Hillsong saying recently: “We refer to our gifts, but our gifts remain gifts received from above”.
Yes, we may enjoy our gifts, and we are supposed to develop our talents. But in the end it is all about bringing glory to God who gave us those gifts and talents. Nothing can bring us more joy than that.