In life, there are winners and there are losers. This is an undeniable fact that Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs fans are going to experience tonight as the World Series comes to close, and we as a country are going to experience in full force next Tuesday when this crazy election season finally comes to an end.
I’m only mentioning this undeniable fact because it seems as if we as a society have devolved into a group of people who can’t stand losing or losers. The proof of this is the “participation trophies” we give to every kid who plays on a team and the number of times I’ve heard a parent cite “not being good at X” as a reason for a kid not to play.
I hope I’m not the only one who finds this disheartening. The truth is that it is OK to lose, to fail, to suck at something, to trip and fall instead of making the goal, to mess up during a solo, and in general, to not be the best at whatever activity you try. The losing team in the World Series are not losers. They just didn’t win that one game. The losing politicians gave it their all and should be respected for that. Our children should be encouraged to try no matter what the eventually outcome of the trying is.
Have you seen this billboard during your travels:
Yep, good old Abe failed. And failed. And failed. But he didn’t give up. And that, of course, is what we need to teach our kids: that persistence, resilience, the ability to try, try again…these are the skills that make someone a winner. What the scoreboard shows at the end of the game is important in a short term type of way, of course, but the life skills learned along the way are what will eventually make someone a winner in life.
Keep Your Trophy
Educators today like to talk about “21st Century Skills.” These skills include collaborating, problem solving, teamwork, flexibility and creativity. They are considered essential for preparing students to succeed in life. Almost all 21st century skills revolve around working with others, being part of something bigger than yourself, and taking initiative as part of a group. None of these skills include “winning”. This is an important distinction as we sit down after the big game or the big election to discuss the outcome.
And speaking of winning and baseball and 21st century skills, here’s a free story from SPIDER Magazine by Myra Sanderman called “A Feel for the Game” I won’t tell you how it ends because (as I hope I convinced you) you’ll enjoy it either way.