PostHeaderIcon Perhaps We Should Do Less Winning?

I spent this past weekend watching 2 grandsons compete in baseball tournaments. As is normal in present America, all the emphasis was on winning. Indeed, apparently winning is all that counts these days.

In the case of total war, I cannot help but agree. In most other cases, I am increasingly skeptical.

As my grandsons “won” some games and “lost” others, I could not help but study the obvious effects these two outcomes had on the young people playing and, to a lesser extent, on the parents watching… almost insanely euphoric in the first case and a hang-dog, give up attitude in the second.

This is the problem with a win/lose dichotomy. While it produces some winners, it always produces an equal or greater number of losers. And this in a game where NOTHING is actually won or lost except one’s very temporary pride, esteem and self confidence. Might it be better to put the emphasis on performing the best one can? Then, all who put forth a good effort can finish the day feeling good about themselves – while those who did not try would know who they are without some artificial win/lose structure.

If you will, think about the automobile industry and its several significant players rather than a sporting event. In any given time period, one company will sell more vehicles than the others. But that company did not “win” a game anymore that the others “lost”. When the counting is over we invariably find that all of the automobile makers still had thousands of well paid employees and many thousands of satisfied customers.

For sure, it is possible for an automobile company (or any enterprise) to “fail”. But failing is not the same as losing. Failure is much more real and often absolute. That is to say, something goes away, usually forever. And, failure comes not from “losing” in some arbitrary numbers game – it invariably comes from not performing effectively.

I have said all this to come to my real point… considering these thoughts, I finally realize why I truly despise Donald Trump. If you listen closely, when he is not calling someone stupid, all he talks about is winning. We (America) are going to win this, we are going to win that, we are going to win everything. And, the implication must be that our international competitors will become losers.

Sorry Donald, but I don’t want Mexico to be any more a loser than it already is. I want them to perform such that their people are proud to be Mexican, and also prefer to stay home rather than invade their neighbors.

I am not the least bit frightened by a prosperous Asia. Such should open unbelievable markets for American goods and services if we would quit taxing and regulating our businesses into oblivion while paying our citizens not to work.

Same with Europe, currently our largest trading partner. I want them to be rolling in money and to spend tons of it right here in the USA.

We have imaginations that are free to imagine whatever we wish. Why not imagine a world with generally rising prosperity and free trade for all? I truly believe that whatever we can see clearly in our minds, we can make happen in reality.

Think (or imagine) about it.

Troy L Robinson

10 Responses to “Perhaps We Should Do Less Winning?”

  • Jerry Elkins says:

    Problem I have with your assessment Troy. We (US) have been doing nothing but losing for twenty + years. Time to win a few. Eh?

    • Troy Robinson says:

      I think you missed my point. We have NOT been losing, we have been under performing.


  • Larry Andrew says:

    Well Jerry….vote for Trump then. He’ll certainly fix your issues won’t he? Troy, I think a lot of what you see in kids sports has to do with managing expectations thru the growing process. I coached most of the youth sports activities for both boys and girls and found that it was crucial to manage the parents from the get go at the start of each season. In the early age stuff, the emphasis is on skill development and not winning or losing. Most sports require all on each team to play about the same amount. It is basically developing skills and as those develop the outcomes become evident in results, the more skilled rise to the top and we have to have outlets for them that might be different from the less skilled. So….I don’t think the youth sports experience has much to do with world government wins and loses. Too much of a reach, at least if managed properly.

  • Oh My! What an interesting article. Thought provoking at its best so THANK YOU!

    This has been plastered across my TV screen now for at least 5 hours. I read, think, go and come back to repeat the process again.

    That in my opinion is a win for you because you stopped me long enough to think for more than a nano second. Next it is a win for you because I am willing to engage.

    So perhaps the question next is “WINNING” according to who and why?
    Since we live in an ever increasing eclectic world the answer is probably “too many to count or list”.

    “I truly believe that whatever we can see clearly in our minds, we can make happen in reality.”

    I agree fully … getting the “WE” to see period much less clearly … is the challenge. Maharishi Mahesh claimed we only needed 50,000 to achieve world piece … yes with all of his millions of followers or trainees that did not/has not happened.

    Have you ever served on a jury of 12 and tried to get them all to see the same thing? … lol

  • Whew… at first it appeared that you were uncharacteristically joining the touchy-feely crowd, in suggesting that children shouldn’t keep score in sports, and all get an equal participation trophy! While I take your point, I think sheltering children from the real world of competition is a mistake, which ultimately cripples them.

    Interestingly, while I am quite competitive by nature, and do play to win, it occurs to me that I have little interest in team sports, even as a spectator. I prefer to compete against myself or perhaps a clock, to improve my performance and skills. When competing with others, I prefer one on one competition, where I am in sole control of my side’s performance. Perhaps this explains my disdain for collectivism, or vice versa. 🙂

    As an entrepreneur, I have had a fair amount of experience leading, training, and motivating employees into a cohesive team, very much intent on ‘winning.’ Thinking about that, while our competitors were not exactly thrilled with our successes, our prime motive was to meet our own sales goals, and create loyal, well-satisfied, repeat customers. That another enterprise may have suffered losses as a result of our celebrated ‘wins,’ was incidental and seldom even considered. The purpose and joy of winning the heart of a fair lady, has absolutely nothing to do with making a loser of another suitor, however hang-dogged he might feel about it.

    As for Trump’s populist rhetoric, while he uses the term ‘win’ a lot, what he is really all about is negotiating deals. In a truly free market, both sides of a deal or trade come out winners. Each side got something he valued more, in trade for something he valued less. There are no losers in these win-win transactions. If you listen carefully to what he is lamenting, it is that America’s political hacks are so inept at making smart international deals, that we leave too much on the table, which he calls losing. Making a good deal, he calls winning, and he is confident in his own ability to consummate them.

    I don’t doubt that he understands well the concept of win-win transactions; but he is unlikely to leave much on the table, or give in to lopsided demands by two-faced tyrants. Giving a competing country unfettered free trade access to our market for their goods, while allowing them to place tariffs on imported goods, to protect their own producers from the efficiencies of our suppliers, makes no sense whatever. So, who is underperforming here? Our exporters or our government?

    Trade agreements are not as simple as one might think. I have lived in foreign countries, which funded their entire government with tariffs and import duties. Even though they had no local manufacturers to protect, the import duty on so-called luxuries, such as a new car, was often 100%. Of course, most of their population were poor peasants, so they had no income tax, or industries to tax. Negotiating a fair trade deal with such a country, can be rather problematic. If all they were exporting was raw materials, which we had need of, there would be no reason to counter their tariffs with taxes on their commodities.

    If they started industrializing, and exporting manufactured goods made with incredibly cheap peasant labor, which competed with our own, that is an entirely new paradigm. In a global economy, if we insist on ‘free trade,’ and do not place protective tariffs on these cheap goods, we are almost forcing our manufacturers to move their operations to such foreign countries, with low taxes and cheap labor. Then, who is winning, who is losing, and who is underperforming? â—„Daveâ–º

    • Troy Robinson says:

      In no way shape or form am I suggesting that we give all participants a trophy no matter if they even tried. That makes me sick to my stomach.

      What I am suggesting is that we put more emphasis on good performance rather than a winning score. For instance, I have been to a number of youth baseball games where the truly outstanding player in the game was on the losing team. Said player should be encouraged to feel good about their performance despite being let down by his/her teammates.

      I believe that emphasis on performance more often leads to the win/win situation that we both favor without branding anyone a “loser”.


      • Thinking further about this, it occurs to me that in the world of Montessori preschool, we find that young children are easily encouraged to judge their own progress, improvements, and competences for themselves, without any need of approval from others. Montessori students quickly become independent by nature. They do not need or desire adult praise, stars, stickers, or any other external rewards, to know for themselves when they are doing their best.

        There is no competition between students, who are not grouped by age anyway. Thus, the fact that another child is ahead or behind is perfectly natural, and neither a reason for jealousy or condescension. Advanced students become roll models, and slower/younger ones are readily and kindly mentored. Once again, I conclude that it is the whole concept of collectivism that is at the root of the societal ills you lament. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Our nation isn’t obsessed with winning, it’s obsessed with not losing. I think the biggest influence in recent years has been the insurance industry. Everybody has to buy insurance for everything, and in order to get the mandated insurance, you need to follow the insurance company rules. It’s become an additional layer of law that no one gets to vote on. The education system has been standardized and tested into obsolescence in the name of making sure no one falls through the cracks. Giving everyone a participation trophy isn’t to make them all winners, it’s to tell them that winning isn’t important, that it’s just important to make sure no one loses.

    I’m sure Trump has done plenty of losing in his life. I much prefer someone who has made mistakes and followed them up with successes to someone who just has time in office.

    It’s better to have lost and won than never to have lost at all.

    • Our nation isn’t obsessed with winning, it’s obsessed with not losing.

      That is a very astute observation, Steel, which I am inclined to agree with. I have always detested insurance, and have never purchased any beyond the absolute minimum mandated by various governments or banks. Insurance always struck me as betting against oneself, and a great way to invite nuisance lawsuits. Over 70 years, I have saved a ton of money on unnecessary insurance, and have never once needed to hire a lawyer for anything. Many would consider that a win. 😉 â—„Daveâ–º

      • Chris says:

        Like you Dave I have never indulged in any “insurance” that wasn’t necessary and when I say necessary I mean mandated by law or the ends to another goal. Many wonder why at the age of nearly 60 I don’t have any life insurance. My answer is simply that it probably benefits me to be worth more alive than dead. If you knew some of my past “associations” it makes perfect sense. 🙂

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