“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  This infamous quote, often attributed to Vince Lombardi, actually originated with college football coach Red Saunders, though Lombardi did say it as well.

Is it true?  Most people, including those in elite sports, often agree with this sentiment.  However, I have a hunch that most people don’t believe that this statement is true – and those that do, should change their minds.

I learned some life lessons spending the weekend in CA with my daughter.  Her 4+ was rowing at the US Junior National Championships.  It was really cool!  And I saw things that I don’t see at other competitions – working together, even with other clubs – especially when a competitor needed help, no negative cheering and even competing teams talking with one another.

Look, there is no question, that everyone wants to win.  I saw that this weekend.  These were all the top kids in the country and they wanted to win.  They came to win.  Their parents wanted them to win.  Their coaches were paid to bring home winners.

And, don’t get me wrong – I love competition.  But, there are ways to be competitive where we are not doing it to the detriment of others.  Where we keep our moral compass focused on “right” rather than “win.”  This is true on all areas of our life, work, friends, family and home.

Here are my “lessons” from the kids this weekend:

Be Professional: Always treat everyone with respect.  Whether on your team or not.  Love the game, not the win – that’s extra.

Be a Teacher: My daughter’s teammates are teaching her about what’s to come with college rowing and she, in turn, will teach others.  Let’s do that in life too and not worry about someone getting better than us.

Be an Example:  Let’s model behaviors we want our kids to learn – let’s not scream negativity when our kids are on the field.  Let’s give our kids the life tools of – perseverance, mental toughness, discipline, accountability, confidence and selflessness – by showing restraint ourselves.

Be Part of the Team:  Create a climate at home, at work and on the field that encourages working together.  Life is about being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  That’s also true on the field as well.

I was proud not only of our own girls, but also the kids I met, watched and cheered for.  I want life to be more like that – more about the whole rather than the individual.  I’ll try to start it on my end!  🙂

Have a great start to the week.