It's Competition Season - What Does Winning Mean?
Winning is not about the outcome.
Winning is not about the outcome. Winning is showing up and giving 150%, Every.Single.Time.
It’s dance competition season; It’s music awards season; it’s movie awards season; and soon it will be theater awards season. When we talk about winning in an artistic environment, it varies from winning in many other arenas. Judging in dance, music, movies, art, theater is subjective. Who “wins” is a decision based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. When you send your dancers to competition this season, be clear with them why you are going to compete. Are you going to “win”? And if so, what does that mean? Are you shooting for 1st place and nothing less is acceptable, or are going to give your dancers more opportunity to perform? Are you providing them with more opportunity to shine on stage, improve upon their technique and build their confidence? Our culture and society is in constant motion and forever changing and dance has changed along with it. The skills that dancers are learning now are far and away much more challenging than ever. But just as in educational school, where we want to make sure we are not teaching just to pass the test, in dance we need to make sure we are not teaching dance for the win. It is more important than ever for dancers to understand that winning is not about the outcome of a competition but it is about showing up and giving 150% Every.Single.Time. This is very different from saying we don’t care if we win. Of course we care. That is part of human nature, if you are in a competition of any sort you want to win. But as an artist, that is never the true motivation to do what you do every day. If a singer/songwriter is making music, are they thinking about will their song get nominated for a grammy? If a person embarks on an acting career, is it only because they want to win an oscar? These may be long term goals but it is not what will get them up every day, commit to their craft and feel joy and fulfillment in their work.
It is a challenging task for dance instructors to keep kids motivated if they are not “winning” at competition. As soon as a dancer or team thinks they can’t win, they definitely will not win. The word can’t has such a negative effect it is almost impossible to overcome. As shown by motivator and speaker, Jack Canfield, just saying the word CAN'T, can make you weak and powerless. If we motivate our kids, our dancers, our artists to not focus on the win but to commit 150% Every.Single.Time. They WILL win. They will see their growth and progress. They will do things they never thought possible. When I hear baby boomers disparage millennials because they say they want everything handed to them or that they don’t want to work for anything, I think to myself, didn’t we do this to them? We told them they can be whatever they want in life and they can have whatever they want in life. We forgot the last line to that, you can have whatever you want in life if you commit 150% Every.Single.Time. There are no shortcuts.
The challenge in all classrooms, dance rooms or sports fields is to get kids to commit every single day. The challenge is to help students rise after failure; to not let a mistake or a loss or a bad test score affect their next performance, game or test. It is the one who can look failure in the face and keep going who will ultimately succeed. Failure is part of the road to success, for it is in our failures that we learn the most.
How to master that challenge may be difficult. The most important principle that has helped me personally is learning to be 100% accountable for everything that happens in life. There can be no excuses and no blaming. If something happens, good or bad in my life, I ask myself what role did I play in that? If we can teach young people this principle early on it will help them navigate life better and help them achieve their greatest dreams. It starts with each one of us and leading by example. 150% Commitment plus 100% Accountability; an equation that will work every time.