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Coming Seventh (Out of Nine). Thursday August 22, 2013

As my mother used to say consolingly (usually on Sports Day): "Well, somebody has to come last, dear". A comment that normally elicited the response "Yes, but why does it have to be me?"

As far as I am concerned, one of the best things about adulthood is that nobody has the power to sign you up for the 400m against your specific wishes!

So I am somewhat amazed that my eldest daughter has put herself forward for Race Week at the sailing club and, having come in the various races so far, seventh out of nine, sixth out of ten and a resounding last (capsized in mud to boot), she is still smiling and is apparently still enjoying herself.

It's not a lack of competitiveness; she's sailing to win – if she can, but the secret of her smiles seems to be that she is honestly enjoying herself out on the water. If she makes the best use of the wind and the tides she's doubly pleased and if she manages to pass a few boats and not come last she's totally satisfied. And she's delighted that she's learning all the time.

So I think I'll try to learn from her. Very often my competiveness gets in the way of actually enjoying what's going on – or if I find, after completing something, that someone else has done far better, then that enjoyment is marred.

I don't think I'd want to be without the competiveness gene, and I wouldn't want my children to be without it either, but it's good to see how it can be kept in its place, so it motivates us to do our best, without getting in the way of honest enjoyment and pleasure in the activity itself. It's also great if we can be truly delighted for the person or team who has won.

So to whomever it was who said: "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser" I would return "But I'd rather be happy with having done the best I can". We can't all be winners, but we can all avoid being sore losers.

I'm still not taking up running though.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Maurice PIper Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 7:21am

I'm going through a pretty rough time at present .. nasty marriage breakup, two section 5s & 1 Section 2 in a month, fighting all the way against the medical bureaucracy, which increasingly appears to be organised along the lines first established by Dr Mengele in his famous stress testing.

Something about your post made me pause to reflect and see that I have to keep on it, not give up. I will beat them, and your post will help me to value the small successes even while major crap is piling up all around.

So thank you !

The Entertrainer Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 7:50am

Another excellent post, Mary, and Maurice's comment above shows that your shared insights are making a real contribution to get people through the toughest of times, so "thank you".
One of my favourite questions is, "Compared to what?" It sounds like your daughter is happy to compare her 'performance' to her own previous form - much better than comparing herself to others. Above all, she's found joy in the journey - something I need to remember on a daily basis.

Sally E Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 9:07am

Excellent post Mary. I wish I'd had that advice as a child! Such miserable times being the last one chosen for the team...

Anonymous Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 10:41am

I used to come seventh outh of eight in the 800m on sports day when at school and avoided sport for years after that. I took up runnng agin when I turned 50, to prove that I wasn't 'over the hill'. Have since run 4 half marathons and raised a lot of money for charity which has been very helpful for my depression. There is a huge buzz standing on the starting line at Newcastle with many thousands of other runners and no stress about coming first. A good example of 'its not the winning that matters - its the taking part'
A great post - thank you

Arjay Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 10:44am

Your daughter sounds like a delightful girl with the very best attitude to get on in life and be happy. Do you think you could maybe get her to bottle it and distribute it to the rest of us? ;)

Julia Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 10:50am

Are those some of your photos Maurice on the website you see when you click on your name? They are lovely!
The name Dr Mengele conjures up nasty memories of long ago fiction or fact. I am hesitant to google him. Your post reminds me of Clockwork Orange although my memories of that film are hazy too.
I do hope you progress in the direction YOU want to Maurice. It can't get any worse from your description of what life has thrown at you recently.
You are right..small successes are very valuable, often more important to recovery than the final big success.
You must shovel all that major crap away. Your writing is very descriptive!

Anonymous Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 3:55pm

Having taught youngsters I wasn't surprised by your heartwarming story. However Mary, what you have cleverly noticed is that your daughter enjoys competition as well as having fun. There are so many parents who are in one camp or another. This is where the child can develop an issue with losing or authority. Thank you for a fine blog and Sail On!

Lostinspace Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 6:14pm

At school I constantly came second to a genius but was only always told I had not come first. I'm 60 now so this crap about winning being the only thing has been around for too long. Being a good loser used to be so important, now you only have to see how the contestants on shows react to losing to see that it has mostly been thrown out the window. That and the appalling rudeness of the judges all contribute to making it very hard to want to compete for many youngsters except those with a massive ego. I could go on all day...! A great post, I love that your daughter is competing and enjoying it so much. Without all the other competitors you couldn't have a winner, very obvious isn't it but mostly being ignored.

Marcie Sheard Thu, Aug 22nd 2013 @ 6:41pm

A loser is a loser; I get tired of that. Eventually, the enjoyment dwindles. What do I do well that motivates me and keeps me positive? I don't know. Still trying.

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