Second Place?

What happened? Did you hesitate? Didn’t you hear the gun go off? Did you look away for a moment? Well, these are takeoffs from a Jerry Seinfield routine, but when it’s close, second place hurts, and if it’s something stupid, it makes you nuts! Even so, for win, place, or show in horseracing, Gold, Silver or Bronze at the Olympics, the athletes “in the money” have different takes for sure.

The winner cannot be anything but happy. Right? Or not. Sometimes, they wonder if it’s a fluke. They ponder whether indeed the second place person just stumbled, and the second placer is really better after all. Then there’s the Silver Medal person. They worked just as hard. They practiced, bled, sacrificed, competed. They’re crushed. They were robbed. Or not.

Sarah Lewis from the “Embrace the Near Win” Ted Talk says that a close second might actually provide the motivation we need to achieve mastery in the end. I think, however, that this only works for people who seek mastery. And not everyone seeks mastery or perfection. A lot of folks just give up when they lose. Fold up the tent, throw in the rag, walk away, quit. It’s a special person that stays to lose again and again and again. And again. In fact, it’s those losers that are often winners. Furthermore, in the popular Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell shows examples of people who lose over and over and over on their way to success. Without the losses and the tears, the 10,000 hours of work in the field, whatever it is, would not ever have happened, because the person would have quit long before the 10,000 hours ever amassed. As Ms. Lewis says: Embrace the near win. It’s necessary. It just is.