The Real Definition of a Win

Many of my clients have asked me to reflect on my wins for 2021. When I was a basketball coach and an Olympic athlete, I would have given stats, titles, honors, and awards. I would have told you how many games we won, the opponents we defeated, or how we ranked #3 in the nation for rebounding.

olympic speakerThese are the goals that most people use to define success, and it was how I defined success.

Even though I was hooked on wins and championships, I also knew that there was a bigger definition of success. While being interviewed for a coaching job, I told the hiring committee that my goal was to win every single game. They questioned the reality of such a goal until I defined for them what a win was for me.

I believed that the scoreboard could lie about a win or a loss, because sometimes a win wasn’t necessarily etched in the numbers. There are different ways to define wins and losses. If you only honored statistics, the journey was neglected. The journey is oftentimes the biggest win because the journey defines your character, and your character defines you.

What I taught my athletes that constituted a win were the following three traits:

1)     Give 100% effort no matter what the circumstances.

2)     Never quit. If the other team is beating us by 30 points, still play hard. If you are playing the worst game of your career, still play hard.

3)     Learn from the experience. If you grow with every single challenge, you will become one of the best.

When people ask me about the goals that I accomplished in 2021, I don’t respond by providing the number of speaking engagements or coaching clients that I had. I don’t give them how much money I made. While these accomplishments are nice, I am not tied to them as my primary wins.

My biggest win was recognizing my self-worth, overcoming the belief system that I am not enough.  Self-doubt has been a companion of mine for decades. Most people who know me would scoff at the idea that a Two-time Olympian and a National Championship Coach would ever have self-doubt.

Self-doubt was often the driving force to winning, making me work harder and longer than most people had the stamina for. Instead of working on the inside-out, I worked on the outside-in, hoping that each accomplishment would make me feel better about me. Yet, with every title and award, there was still a missing piece.

The missing piece was that I defined myself through my goals and other people’s opinions about me. I was never going to find peace through those definitions.

What I have learned on my journey is that what I really wanted was happiness, love, and peace. A “win” was a temporary solution to a much more complex issue.

What I discovered in the last year is that I don’t have to do, say, or be anything to be deserving of love. I was born that way. I just got lost along the way believing in other people’s definition of success.

Now that I know who I am, I am free of self-judgment and self-punishment. Those are my wins for 2021.

**Sherry is the CEO of the Winning Leadership Company, an award-winning speaker, and leadership consultant. To learn more about Sherry, visit her website at https://www.thewinningleadershipcompany.com/

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