being a bad winner
<as we near a New Year, 2019, I thought I would republish my 2016 New year’s Eve piece because it still seems relevant and the messages still sound>
President-elect Donald Trump’s unusual New Year’s message via Twitter on 12/31/16:
“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”
“Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way.”
The Olympic motto:
“The important thing in the Games is not winning but taking part.
The essential thing is not conquering but fighting well.”
We shake our heads at a 70 year old man over something we wouldn’t even want our 15 year old to do.
Today? Being a bad winner <and how good leaders are never bad winners>.
So. We all know what a bad loser is, but maybe we should actually talk more about what a bad winner is. That may sound strange because … well … I mean, c’mon, who would have thought someone who wins would need a lesson on how to actually be a winner.
Uhm. And who would have thought we would have to teach someone this lesson, especially someone who would be in a position to run a large organization let alone a country.
Uhm. Could you imagine a new CEO of a company who just beat out a rival in an organization for a promotion tweeting this out to all their employees? <no … no sane person could>.
Trump has a problem <okay … several> but this tweet reflects a lack of understanding on how to be a leader, how to be a good winner and that there is a difference between competitiveness mentality and a “win at all cost” mentality.
Competitors compete, compete hard, and accept the win or the loss … warts & all. Sometimes we competitors know we got a little lucky, maybe the chips fell our way because we worked hard & practiced hard, but recognize that even then the chips could have fallen the other way.
Built into our competitiveness is a belief we should win, but that on any given day we could lose.
This type of competitiveness tends to reflect itself in being a ‘good winner’ attitudinally. A little humility. A little respect for the competition. And, unless the competitor was a total asshole, an understanding that they may have lost, but they were not losers.
Someone who has to lead an organization and wants to be successful embraces this attitude.
Now. A ‘win at all costs’ mentality is a double edged bad sword.
Not only do you compete differently <rules are more suggestions than restrictions>, but your wins are an unblemished unassailable win in your mind.
Black and white – I won, you lost.
No warts. No maybes. No ‘it was close.’ Only ‘win.’
This type of competitiveness tends to not reflect upon the competition itself and that maybe, just maybe, your competition is worthy of being your friend or respected acquaintance not as a ‘loser’ but rather ‘someone with the same intent.’ This type of competitiveness rarely reflects any version of sportsmanship.
Someone who has to lead an organization and embraces this attitude does not foster a healthy culture, does not encourage unity but rather incites cut throat aggressive competitiveness, cliques and divisiveness <and a shit load of brown nosing>.
The latter is Trump. And his New Year ’s Eve tweet tells us this. Trump reflects the worst type of lesson as a leader and as a role model.
And I don’t need Trump to make this point. Watch or read the news and you will read day after day incidents displaying the loss of sportsmanship and respect for authority and opponents.
Refs, umpires and coaches are verbally and physically assaulted.
Parents are sometimes excessive in the way they push their kids to be the best.
Coaches are demanding perfection from their players and punish them when they give anything less.
Trump just calls people who didn’t vote for him ‘losers’.
Trump demeans media that fairly criticizes him as ‘dishonest’ or ‘failing.’
Trump demeans loyalty of followers but does not share loyalty of they cannot contribute to the win.
And while I abhor bad winners I have a larger issue with what Mr. President Elect Trump is doing.
Children learn by example. We need to be extremely careful that kids do not get mixed messages from mentors and role models.
So what example are they getting from Trump? How to be a bad winner.
<and I am not sure he cares what lesson he is sharing with the young or if he is simply oblivious to his responsibility to be a role model>
He won. He is going to be our president <note: even of the “losers & enemies”>. He needs to start acting like a good winner and a tough respectful competitor and, well, act like a fucking leader and not a ‘loser’.
It is an honor and privilege to play a game and compete at a high level.
It is an honor and a privilege to compete for the presidency and serve as a president.
It is NOT an honor and a privilege to win – that is reserved for the competition itself. The win itself deserves respect.
That is what we all need to remember and teach our children.
Competition in and of itself is supposed to be about being the best we are capable of and respecting our own abilities as well as respecting others regardless of whether their best is better than our best.
Oh. And respecting everyone … teammates, opponents, coaches, refs and spectators.
And, let’s face it; competition brings out the best, and worst, in everyone. But I imagine my point then is that competition, and sportsmanship, inevitably is about character. And that competition, and winning or losing, makes a person’s real character come out.
Oh. I hate to break the news to everyone, competition and how you handle it takes work and training and shaping and thoughtfulness.
Sportsmanship SHOULD be simple. But it’s not. Losing hurts and winning can easily create feelings of blinding euphoria.
You can teach principles of good sportsmanship to anyone but, in the end, it’s about each person & experience.
They see cheating, lying, badmouthing, complaining to officials … all of which are reflections of someone’s character. More people need to take responsibility <and not blame “the game” or “the moment” or … well … anything>.
I suggest Mr. President-elect do so.
If you win, you do so with grace <because if you do even your competitors will respect you … and potentially follow you>.
If you lose, you do so with grace < because if you do even your competitors will respect you … and potentially follow you>.
I suggest Mr. President-elect do so.
But. Maybe here is the hard lesson.
Cheaters do win. Maybe not philosophically, but in the win/loss column. That is where I like to point out to people winning or losing is about character.
There are a couple of scoreboards for people who play sports.
One is the win/loss record.
One is a life scoreboard.
Sportsmanship shows up on the life scoreboard. While I wish more people would pay attention to that second scoreboard I am fairly sure with our new President, who possibly embodies the penultimate ‘bad winner’, it is going to be tougher and tougher to teach our young people what matters.
believe in the truth.
I believe that every good thought I have,
All men shall have.
This new year’s tweet from Trump was horrible. Horrible not just from a personal perspective but also from a business leader perspective <no sane CEO or president of a company would ever send a tweet out like this> and also from a President’s perspective <who supposedly is seeking to unite a country … all 320 million people … not just his 60 million>.
Trump is doing everything we teach our children not to do if they win.
Which makes me ask: how can it be that a person who can’t even articulate a New Year’s wish is going to be the leader of a country I love?
He is a playing a dangerous game. And I wish he would play the game differently.
I respected Jim Courier as a tennis player and I respect his words even more … “sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way.”
Trump has walked off the court and refuses to carry himself with pride, or even a dose of humility let alone respect the win. And if one of his heinous surrogates comes back at me and suggests “they cannot accept the win” or “they are undermining his election” and that he isn’t creating the issue in public I have two words for you — “shut up.”
If he chooses to lead … he owns his win, he owns the narrative and he owns the topic. He has not elected to show leadership yet.
This may be the understatement of the year … he is not a gracious winner.
This New Year’s Eve Trump tweet is an embarrassment to the presidency.
I expect more, and better, from any leader let alone my President Elect.
<originally written December 31, 2016>