The Real Winners

Posted on Oct 17, 2011 in CHI Contemplation
Tags: marketing communications, public relations

For those of you who engage in sports as participants or fans, there is probably no greater happiness than the joy of winning.

But recently a local newspaper published a photo in the heart of its sports section that captured something just as valuable as winning. The picture featured two high school tennis players, one bent over laughing while the other remained seated on the ground also laughing at what had just transpired during the match. Apparently the doubles partners, who went on to win their fourth doubles championship of the season, had just collided, resulting in an obviously uproarious mishap.

The expressions on their faces are priceless. One player holds her tennis racquet to the ground as she braces herself in laughter. Her eyes are pressed shut with glee. The other player appears to be glancing toward their opponents to gauge their reaction. But mostly she is simply laughing at the mix-up that just occurred.

The photographer had to be paying close attention to the match in order to capture that moment, which says volumes about the perspectives those two young athletes bring to the game they play. Being able to laugh at your worst mistakes is so valuable not only in sports, but in other areas of life as well. One can imagine how differently two young athletes could react to the situation. Rather than laughing, it is very possible there could be an argument, shouting, even stalking off the court. Those things do happen in sports at all levels. Experts fret and fume over the “example” of a professional baseball pitcher trashing the dugout in a very public way after being pulled from a game. Or a pro football player going rogue on an opposing quarterback. It happens in both men’s and women’s sports. People get mad, go ballistic and let the pressures of the game get to them.

And then there are the athletes that know how to laugh it off. Let bygones pass and get on with the game. Have a laugh at misfortune. Sometimes that’s the best reaction, not to mention to the best way to learn from our mistakes.

The example set by those two young athletes is a good lesson for us all. Finding humor in the moment is the sure way to sanity sometimes. Have a laugh and you might do better solving the problem. Same goes if you are working with a customer or acting as the client. Not all problems are life-changers. Not all mistakes are ruinous. For all the attention Americans pay to sports, the most important thing we seem to ignore is how often our heroes make mistakes or fail. A truly great baseball player gets a hit three out of seven times at bat. A magical day for a running back in football is covering 100 yards in a game. Scoring just one goal in a soccer game is considered a difficult feat.

That’s why those two laughing tennis players are the true heroes. They crashed into each other, had a laugh and went on to win their 4th doubles championship of the season. What a great lesson for those participating in sports, business, marriage or any number of other human endeavors. Mistakes happen. Have a laugh. Move on. The real winners always do.


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