I appreciate winning as much or more than anyone I know. I am particularly competitive in the arena of board games. Who doesn’t love being a winner? So when I began to study conflict resolution, I frankly was looking for material to teach me how to win at conflict. Those books are out there and are readily available for our competitive consumption.
However, I found far more compelling literature that ultimately shook my preconceived notion that winning was the best game in town. I have decades of experience at playing to win. I was not easily convinced that winning is not everything. What I learned is that I’m not even sure it is a thing at all. It depends on our viewpoint.
It is no secret that I both love to win and have never won a set of tennis playing against my husband. I’ve written reams of material on all the humbling lessons I have learned standing across the court from him for almost 50 years of tennis playing and losing set after set after set. But that perspective is ONLY one that I can find on the scoreboard. It doesn’t tell the whole story; it doesn’t even address the most important point of the story!
See, I may lose at tennis, but together Pete and I win at life when we enjoy going out and playing tennis, especially since we figured out how to more accurately measure success.
Tennis is something we have done together since we were kids; how many people are still in relationship with the same person they first learned how to play tennis with using a wooden racket?
Together, we have literally grown up on the tennis court. In terms of years, that’s a fact. But it is also true when we consider our maturity and even our capacity to live in the moment. If tennis was once a way we competed for points and got in our cardio exercise, it has morphed into sacred space. We do not take for granted that we will have decades MORE to go out on a warm summer night, turn on the lights and push the ball through the air with a sturdy wallop of our racket. We know what it is like to be side-lined by a shoulder injury. We are aware that several of our friends are no longer healthy enough to stand out in 90 degree heat and run from one corner of the baseline to another as if the point really mattered. No longer bothered with the burden of having something to prove, life has become far more enjoyable on many fronts. I suggest that for today - consider what competitions you can set aside so that you can experience a bit more sacred space.