In our win-at-all-costs society, we’ve learned to celebrate and depend on our strengths, and to hide and defend against our weaknesses. In our chase to the top of the hill, the head of the pack, and the winner’s circle, everyone else is seen as a challenger and opponent, and our mission is to defeat all by exploiting our strengths and their weaknesses. To not win is to lose, which means shame and lack.
I want to point out that this is merely one perspective, not an eternal truth; even though it may seem so to you. Perhaps this is all you’ve ever known, ever seen—the person with the best grades, the most points, the quickest answers, the fastest speed, the strongest and the best in any number of ways—is the winner. And, we honor and celebrate winners. We bet and make money on them, we want to be like them; we dress like them and wear their sneakers. Being a winner = success, and who doesn’t want to be a success?
This is an idealistic, unsustainable philosophy. Simply put, when many compete, there can be only one winner. As such, it is more realistic to accept that, in the course of our life, we will often not win. Therefore, it is more rational and useful to consider a more reasonable view of life devoid of a focus on victory. Learning to work with people, seeing them as allies, focusing on communication and collaboration, is much more rewarding. Rather than perpetuating the isolation created from strength vs. weakness and win vs. lose, collaboration strengthens our bonds of relationship and promotes community.
In some cultures, strength and weakness are seen not as opposing forces, but as interconnected parts of a whole—yin and yang. It is a dynamic, flowing relationship, essential to all things. There is no merit in being all strength and no weakness, just as there must be light-dark, hot-cold, male-female. There cannot exist one without the other.
To understand strength-weakness as a yin-yang relationship is beautiful and compassionate. Who knows what is strength? What is weakness? At any moment, depending on the situation, what constitutes strength or weakness is flowing and changing. More important than winning is building resourcefulness, resilience, and persistence. You’ve got to dig the journey! It’s always about the journey, not the destination.
When I’m a father, I’d rather instill resourcefulness, resilience, and persistence in my child than make him/her feel the only thing that matters is winning. I have HOPE, and I want my child to have HOPE! You don’t need to win to find HOPE. Or to share HOPE!