Tag Archives: Success

Winner and Losers

Have great answers to better questions. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

Photo courtesy of Philo Nordlund on Flickr

In the Middle Ages, the king was the winner. He lived in a castle with legions of servants who brought him the best food and wine.

The king didn’t have air conditioning or aspirin or deodorant or a smart phone. You probably wouldn’t trade places with him, because his quality of life was quite low by the standard you enjoy.

However, he lived a much better life than the people around him, and everyone knew it.

That’s how the king won.

Imagine that you live in a mansion, and that you have a million dollars. It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Again, the life of a winner.

But now imagine that everyone you know has 5 million dollars and a much bigger mansion than yours.

Suddenly, you’re not the winner anymore.

Comparing ourselves and our fortunes to the character and lives of others leads inexorably to a world of winners and losers.

The winner finishes first and takes the prize. Everyone else is a loser.

If the world is really about winning and losing in this simplistic way, the truth is that most of us are losers.

And, yet, the lives of the “losers” today are objectively better than the life of a Medieval king. And the king was a winner.

Today’s winner will be tomorrow’s loser, because even if he doesn’t change the world around him will.

Winning like a king is arbitrary, not absolute. It’s a made-up thing.

To win at baseball, you must score more runs than your opponent. Baseball is a made-up game with made-up rules.

Life is not baseball.

If you compare yourself to others, you’re not living your life—you’re living theirs. Or, rather, you’re trying to live their lives, but in a bigger, better way.

Winning is important. No one wants to be a loser. The question “What does it mean to live a ‘winning’ life?” is a good question.

Unfortunately, the world gives us many bad answers.

Winning at life begins with asking good questions and finding good answers.

Today is the luckiest day of the year

Go ahead, make your day. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

Graphic courtesy of zeevveez on Flickr

Yesterday my mother sent me an email with the subject heading “tomorrow is the luckiest day of the year….” That means today is your lucky day.

The question is: what are you going to do to take advantage?

I don’t understand how the motions of planets have anything more to do with my fortunes than, say, the ocean currents or the flights of birds or the placement of the stones on the sidewalk. Or anything else that exists in nature.

But if you treat every day as the luckiest day of the year, there is a 100% chance that one day you’ll be right.

If you treat today as the luckiest day of the year, you’ll likely be a little more bold, and a little more intentional, because you are preparing yourself for something good to happen.

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. The only certainty is that when you’re not prepared, and not preparing, opportunity passes by.

On knowing your limits

Everything is impossible, until it isn’t. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

Photo courtesy of Peter Reid, Flickr

What would it be like to live in another era, or another country? What would it be like to live your life as a king, as a slave, or as the opposite sex?

What would it be like?

The many answers to the many forms of this question may be less interesting, and less useful, than the observation that most of us never bother to answer it.

One of the most powerful insights into our human condition is the tendency of our species to live within the limits.

– the limits of our physical endurance and strength
– the limits of our understanding
– the limits of our beliefs
– the limits of our intelligence
– the limits of our will, knowledge, and comfort

There are names for those who test limits.

The weightlifter who can comfortably lift x pounds sets a goal to lift x+10 pounds.

The runner who can complete 3 miles in 25 minutes determines to run 3 miles in 20 minutes.

These people are called athletes.

The person who imagines what it would be like to wake up as a giant cockroach, and who writes a book about it, is called an artist.

The athlete wages a battle against physical and mental limits. The artist confronts the limits of imagination.

There is no name for the people who never test their limits, because they are simply ordinary human beings.

Limits show us where the possibility of growth exists.

The limits of political will define the status quo. Will is the wall that encircles every social order.

The politician says “that’s impossible,” when what he really means is, “I lack the will to do it.”

Don’t accept the world as it is, because it will be that and nothing more.

Questions push up against the limits of what is known. The answers lie beyond. Don’t ask questions, and you will forever live within the limits of your current knowledge.

There are emotional limits, mental limits, physical limits, psychological limits.

Fear, lack of confidence, comfort, doubt, resignation.

Everything has an absolute limit: but since we so often accept the given limits as if they were absolute, we don’t explore the realm of the possible.

What is impossible? Airplanes, medicine, going to the moon. A 2-hour marathon. Time travel. The line between what is and what could be is a line we are re-drawing every day.

Artists, athletes, explorers, innovators, and philosophers do not accept limits. They identify that which is unknowable, undiscovered, unseen, unthinkable. They know, discover, see, and think.

Find a limit and push against it. Accept nothing as it is, and it will soon be something else.