Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Win At All Costs

As a follow-up to today's verse (#68), I wanted to share a personal observation as to why I think the message contained therein is so on target.

For years, I used to be a mega-competitive person. It wasn't enough that I tried to do my best in all things undertaken; I HAD TO win and, as I've written here before, I had to trounce my opponent into the ground! Barely winning seemed like losing to me. No, I had to show absolute dominance and superiority.

This was just as true for board games as it was for political debates. While I've never been much of an athlete, the few athletic endeavors I participated in (e.g., bowling, table tennis, free throw shooting, miniature golf or croquet) fit the same bill.

When I claimed victory -- which was frequent -- I would prance around like a prima donna, rubbing your nose in my abject superiority. When I lost, I would throw adult temper tantrums. Needless to say, I soon found that no one wanted to play games with me. My behavior -- whether winning or losing -- was more than most people wished to handle. Looking back, I don't blame a one of them.

As I began to study philosophical Taoism, I soon realized what a jerk I had become. I knew in my heart that, if I truly wanted to be a Tao person, some radical changes were in order. One of those changes was to realize that winning and losing are mere value judgments. In the overall scheme of things, it doesn't mean crap. Tao doesn't care who wins at Scrabble!

As I began to shed my "win at all costs" attitude, my overall personality softened and became less rigid. It's amazing how just one change can cause a ripple affect through one's whole being.

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