Life need not be a “win or lose” always…

Many of us think of life as a race where one has to win and another lose . Is it necessary ? I am not sure. It may be a good idea to look at life as a game to play and enjoy the game. You may win some time, lose some time and even end up in a draw some time. We may also be prepared for a game to abandoned sometimes and you may have to share points with your opponent.

Life is a zero sum game. The day we realise it, the better for us. We need not live life as if we have to win a game always. We need to learn to play the game in a fair way and give it our best shot. If we win, we deserve it and if we lose, our opponent deserves to win. If there is a draw, both of us deserve to share the credit.

This phenomenon of win-lose spirit is seeped in societal values. We urge our children to be competitive always and look at winning at all levels. A child who does not learn to accept defeat cannot face life in its full fury. We need to learn to accept victory with humility and defeat with grace. This is best lesson for life.

Our education system is entrenched with systems to identify winners and losers only. It may be time to revamp this system so that we encourage students to learn and play the game in a fair manner. While winning or losing may be an outcome, it should not be our focus. We need to learn to play the game to the best of our ability and let victory or defeat go to the person who deserves it on that day at that time.

This attitude to life has been promoted within families too. We make our own children compete with each other. We promote competitiveness amongst our own children at home by saying that you are not as good as your sister or brother. This way we not only kill the spirit of learning but also promote rivalry and lack of mutual respect between siblings.

The work place is no different. Having spent almost four decades in the corporate world, one can understand that the workplace is a competitive world. But this does not mean that we create systems and processes where employees almost kill each other to be a winner. We need to enable employees to continually learn and give their best. Winning or losing has to be realised as an outcome of their efforts and not an end in itself.

The sports arena is also not different. We see players and teams competing with each other to win at any cost. Sometimes they are willing to violate rules, behave unacceptably as long as they win. This is not the spirit in which any game is to be played. The spirit of the game is not valued anymore. Victory by any means is recognised and promoted. This kills the spirit of the game and thereby gives birth to players who are like conspirators to enable victory at any cost.

We need to learn that life need not be a win-lose game. I would prefer life to be an enjoyable journey of learning, where wining and losing is part of the game. Playing the game in the true spirit has to be encouraged and rewarded. This will ensure that people learn to play in a fair way. We will realise that this leads to better behaviour of people, more happiness and better results as well.

As in the photo above, we need to make players learn to play the game fairly rather than only focus on winning all the time.

Let us learn to play the game of life.

S Ramesh Shankar

24th June 2020

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