It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well
not have lived at all -J.K. Rowling
The trick to never failing is to forgo winning. What if winning was no longer limited to a gold medal or a trophy or a certificate? Our species prides itself on being able to identify, label, and quantify matter and concepts. Therefore it’s natural for us to look for ways to measure our own value— whether it’s by the amount of praise we receive from those around us, the amount of money we make, or by how many awards we’ve managed to collect.
The downside to this value system is that it completely undervalues effort and good intentions. In other words, we’re made to feel inferior whenever we aren’t receiving those external validations. So what happens when we work our butt off, but we still don’t come in first? Does that mean that all of our hard work was for nothing? Of course not! Every drip of sweat, every late night studying and perfecting our craft counts and it’s up to us to realize this. We shouldn’t depend on anyone, but ourselves to decide our self-worth.
To do so, we need to redefine the concept of ‘winning’ to now mean a measurement of personal growth that is unique to each individual. In other words, if we perform better today than we did the day before, then that’s a win! We should be focused on our own progress, instead of being obsessed with outperforming those around us.
Imagine how fearless we would be if we didn’t play to win, but to live. Our lives would be far more vibrant if we played for the experience, to improve ourselves, to expand our scope— refusing to limit ourselves to the lonely, narrow path of so-called “winners” who play exclusively for the sake of winning.