At the end of the race, he was awarded a participant medal* – his first honor of any kind. By the look on his face, you would have thought he had just been awarded an “eat as much junk food as you possibly can for the rest of your life” prize. Gardner proceeded to wear the medal all throughout the weekend, pointing it out proudly to anyone he came in contact with – the grocery store clerk, our neighbors, and his brother (repeatedly). “Look, I won!” he’d share.
Truth be told, Gardner didn’t win that race. He felt like a winner, though, because he achieved something significant. And it got me thinking about that winning spirit and how exhilarating it can be.
Can you recall the last time you won something – really won something?
A specific situation where you worked hard and achieved a personal victory:
- Losing that last five pounds
- Writing an awesome proposal that was accepted by the client
- Getting positive feedback that made you feel appreciated and valued
Do you remember how that felt? Pretty good, right?
When I think about what it feels like to win, it motivates me to start thinking about what I can do to start creating some more wins in my life.
Here are some actions you can take to start generating some “W’s” for yourself:
- Set a short-term goal for yourself. Whether it’s sticking to a diet for five days, waking up early to get ahead of the day, or organizing your office, select an activity that is achievable in the near-term so you can feel the pride associated with success.
- Choose long-term goals. Give yourself something to strive for in the long term, too. Then break it down to milestones that will get you from here to there. E.g. if you plan on going for a promotion next year, think of what experiences you need between now and then and start mapping them out on your calendar. Whenever you achieve a milestone, be sure to recognize the success with a small celebration.
- Don’t overlook your everyday wins. There are probably things you do on a routine basis that constitute “winning.” Don’t be too busy and blow right past them. Winning feels good and builds confidence. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to experience your own success.
Not every win you achieve will result in a gold medal or a trophy – and that’s okay. The spirit of winning isn’t a tangible object. It’s an intangible emotion that lifts you up and helps you acknowledge how exceptional and talented you are.
* I’m not a huge fan of participant medals – or scenarios where everyone gets a trophy. But in Gardner’s case, I’m so happy the event planners made the effort to reward these little runners for their extraordinary efforts.