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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Winning

Vince Lombardi once said, “If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”

To say that we are a species that likes to “win” is a bit of an understatement. Lets face it—we are infatuated with winning. Winning has become a measure of success and achievement in our lives and has become deeply ingrained into our society.

We see it manifest itself in all facets of our lives—sports, testing, businesses, and even employment. This increasingly competitive world we live in yields a society characterized by two groups of people: “winners” and “losers.”

The more traditional, standard view of winning is associated with the notion of doing better than someone else. People assume winning is synonymous with “beating others.”

Our capacity to win, however, is not necessarily contingent upon another person losing or by measuring our performance in relation to those around us.

So that bears the question: what does it mean to really win?

To win can mean many different things. It can be short-term or long-term; it can be a life-changing experience, or an instantaneous boost that disappears and is forgotten five minutes later. The point is that winning has so many layers and levels to it. It is best understood in the unique context of that particular viewpoint.

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Let's begin by looking at winning from an athletic perspective at BC. An obvious choice for what is arguably one of the pinnacles of athletic life on campus is football. This is perhaps the most defined, basic example of differentiating a winning team and a losing team by the team that scores the greatest number of points (touchdowns) and the team with the least number of points, respectively. The same can be said for hockey or basketball—whatever the sport may be.

This, however, is just the micro-scale of winning. You also win by becoming national champions, not just winning an individual game. Even further, however, is the internal reward that is not necessarily a physical, gold-gilded metal or trophy.

You win by taking part in a life-changing experience with teammates who shape you into a future leader and teach you a multitude of valuable, life-long lessons.

Perhaps there is also the business side of winning, undeniably represented by the Carroll School of Management. Maybe success is developing entrepreneurial skills or creating a business that is not only financially successful but contributes even more to society by producing a state-of-the-art product.

Winning can be interpreted from the relationships and knowledge we gain from our educators. Take the Connell School of Nursing students, who define winning in their abilities to apply what they have learned from their mentors to build connections with people and save lives.

Nursing mentors may instill the personal, empathetic qualities that are needed in a good nurse. In this sense, they have a big impact on their lives not only in the teaching aspect of it, but on the personal side of building deeper connections with people and having a sympathetic and caring nature. Here, there is perhaps a greater focus on the possession of these qualities as representative of “winning.”

Even non-students—professors and other faculty—have their own viewpoints on what it means to win. From a professor’s perspective, winning as an educator may strictly be based on having a class of intellectual, straight-A students, creating more of an exciting, engaging, and stimulating class.

On the other hand, it may be the professor’s second, long-term life goal in which he or she is mentoring and shaping the minds of future academics and leaders in the world (regardless of grades or intellect) by inspiring them to make an impactful change in whatever their fields of specialty may be.

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Winning can even be found in religion, which may come as a surprise for something that is perceived as selfless and humbling. Being a part of a school founded by and on Jesuit values contributes to the sense of community, relationship building, and giving back to others that characterizes the “spiritual gain” of winning.

BC experiences seem to shape our individual understandings of winning more than we realize.

“Before BC, I associated winning mostly with the actual end result,” admits one student. “After a year [at BC], I've learned that ‘winning’ isn't always dependent on the end result, but rather the endeavor along the way. That's what's most important to me."

Another student looks inward to highlight her sense of winning as a mental setting.

"One must win on the inside first in order to reap the benefits of external winning,” she says. “It is as much an internal process as an external act.”

Each of these examples highlights various forms of winning. Ultimately, there is not one way (or right way) to win. Instead, it is measured by achieving your own personal, greatest success.

It is a tailored definition that is unique to each individual person. In the end, winning is what you deem worthwhile and how you choose to define your life.

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