Value the Ride, Not Just the Outcome

6/3/2013 12:05:55 AM

I always enjoy watching the post-game interviews of athletes who have just won championships. Sometimes they’re exuberant. Other times they’re stunned and almost in a daze. Some of them are at a loss for words, remarking that it “hasn’t sunk in yet.” When that’s the case, I often sense a hint of disappointment that they expected a “rush” that’s somehow elusive.


Sometimes when you win, you’ll feel the “thrill of victory”—and there’s nothing like it. In other instances when you reach a goal you’ve worked hard for, you might feel strangely subdued. Then, there are times when you don’t win, but your mood is upbeat. You expected to be bummed, but for some reason, you’re not.


Why are there so many different reactions?


One reason may be that when it comes to life experiences, the journey often has more value than reaching the goal itself. This is because effort, perseverance, character building, and teamwork all play a central role, regardless of the final outcome.  Winning isn’t everything. Not even close.


           Society places a great deal of emphasis on winning. Because of this, many people falsely believe the outcome is all that matters. Their enjoyment is an all-or-nothing proposition. It needn’t and shouldn’t be this way!

           I’ll never forget the student I met in Bogor, Indonesia who asked me the following question after my talk on leadership: “Mr. Dennis, I am someone who only enjoys the destination. Can you share wisdom to teach me how to enjoy the process of life?” I was blown away. That was a deep and mature question from such a young person! She was starting to recognize there is a bigger picture to pretty much everything in life. The question is, how to see it?


During my coaching years, I often felt more satisfaction after a one-point loss with our best effort than after a meager five-point victory against the weakest opponent.  I know it was because I held on to this one truth: the moral victory of doing your best can have just as much lasting value as an actual win. It’s not ultimately about whether or not you win or lose. In fact, sometimes your biggest losses can be the catalyst for something amazing! 


Expectations play a big role too. If you expect to win or achieve a goal and you succeed, the response is more subdued than otherwise. That’s why the thrill of an expected victory doesn’t have a very long shelf life.


Do yourself a big favor and savor the ride just as much as the outcome. You’ll experience the joy of your effort so much more!


Have you ever had a lukewarm reaction to a victory and a surprisingly good feeling about a loss? Why do you suppose that is? Was the effort or the outcome more important? We’d love to hear from you! And, as always, please share us on your Facebook or Twitter, and encourage your friends to sign up for our email newsletter.