15Winning Still Matters

ERIC’S SON, AXEL, attends a well-to-do private school. He came home from school one day and told Eric that he was taught that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, only if you have fun. Eric immediately asked Axel if he gets more enjoyment—if he has more fun—at wrestling when he is getting pinned or when he is pinning his opponent? Eric asked Axel if he really likes getting over the obstacles at the indoor obstacle course they go to or if he feels just as good when he can’t get over one. Eric asked him if he is happier when he gets a gold star on his homework assignments or when it is marked in red.

Winning and losing matter. Be aware of it. Just don’t focus on it. Focus instead on behaviors, on meeting team standards. Great teammates do. Standards have nothing to do with talent; they are a choice. Axel might not be able to dribble a basketball, but he can still be a tough basketball player if he achieves the standards that reinforce tough on his basketball team (i.e., dive for loose balls, help teammates and opponents off the floor).

Winning and losing matter. Be aware of it. Just don’t focus on it. Focus instead on behaviors, on meeting team standards. Great teammates do.

Remember that goals are performance based. Standards are behavior based. Goals reinforce what we want to accomplish. Standards reinforce how we behave. Axel is extremely happy when he pins his wrestling opponent, gets over an obstacle, or receives a gold star for his homework. ...

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