Are You Winning Or Losing?

Sally McCutchion

July 18, 2023

As I'm writing, the gentlemen's semi-finals are taking place at the Wimbledon Championships.

Aside from the fact that I love tennis and living in Wimbledon feels like a huge privilege at this time of year, the reason I'm mentioning the Championships is because of this Rudyard Kipling quote that sits above the players entrance to Centre Court...

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same"

It's so curious to me that this particular quote was selected for such a significant location at such a world-renowned competition.

For all of the media attention, money, effort, talent, hype and excitement of the tournament, this quote is a leveller, reminding us that both triumph and disaster are illusions of our own making.

The problem is that for all the wisdom of this quote and the poignancy of its placement at Centre Court, the way that our lives have evolved is very far removed from its truth.

We live our lives as though winning makes us who we are.

We have absorbed the inherent need to win into our psyches in a way that it becomes difficult to challenge.

We are unable to recognise the bad habits around winning.

All of this has led winning to be an 'at all costs' option.

What Does Winning Feel Like?

No, I'm not talking about what winning at Wimbledon feels like...
Djokovic has just gone up a break in the second set and we are all familiar with the expression of pure elation and power that comes from a sporting win.

No, I'm talking about what it feels like to be winning in the game of life.

Ouch, this one is painful to articulate...

Depending on how much reflection on your own circumstances that you do, winning will feel more or less familiar to you.

Here are some of the ways that the feeling of winning shows up these days:

1. A never-ending pressure to do more/achieve more/be more

2. A slightly sinking feeling that keeping up with what it takes to 'win' is becoming harder and harder

3. Quietly unshakeable guilt around the awareness of those who are 'not winning'  

4. Even more unshakeable fear of becoming someone who is perceived to be 'not winning'

5. Emotions like grief, sadness or loss surfacing without tangible or clearly visible reasons

Why Winning Isn't Working

You might be surprised by the things I've listed for the feeling of winning.

Historically, winning felt much better than that, didn't it?

But the reason that winning isn't working anymore is because our systems are created in a binary way where creating winners also inherently creates losers.  

And no-one wants to be a loser.

The Uncomfortable Truth

Sadly, the way that we cope with the inevitable creation of people who are 'not winning' is to psychologically separate their life experience from our own.

We do this out of self-protection, and it mostly happens subconsciously.

But it doesn't change the distance that we create in our minds between those who are winning and those who are not.

And it's this psychological barrier that helps maintain the status quo.  

Recognising that we are all human...

When we access the courage needed to address our own hopes and fears around winning or losing.

When we start listening to and working with the signals in our lives and our bodies.

When we re-align ourselves to the fundamental truth that all humans have innate value.

When we acknowledge that our societal systems should reflect this truth.

That's when we can begin to create businesses, cultures, habits, systems, relationships, policies and governance that move us beyond the current binary system that results in winners and losers.

Sound Impossible Or Too Idealistic?

Yup, I agree. It sounds like both those things.

But I happen to be one of the misfits who chooses to work towards it anyway... And so it's been a real pleasure to have stumbled across these two inspiring resources this week:

1. Kate Raworth speaking about the principles we need to embrace for fresh economic thinking

2. Lankelly Chase choosing to abolish itself and give away £130M on account of traditional philanthropy being a product of colonial capitalism

Fresh Economic Thinking - It's Simple!

In this 7-minute YouTube video, Kate Raworth succinctly defines some of the ways of thinking that we need to embrace to broaden our economic model and move away from the binary results we've got used to.

It's such a great watch - I highly recommend you spend 7 minutes with this one!

Here's my summary:

We need to change the goal away from endless growth. Come on now, it's time. We know endless economic growth is not universally achievable.

We must incorporate much more than just supply and demand into our economic model. Household, state, commons, society and the planet need to be factored into how we structure for success.

We need to understand and integrate the full range of human experience into our economic model. Check out the video for a superb depiction of the one-dimensional, rational, economic 'male' and how we have all learned to cater to 'him' when nobody relates to this robot anymore. Not even men!

Our systems must be more adaptable. Nothing about our society is linear so we must mature from a divisive, linear model to a distributed, regenerative one.

Finally, our economic model has to grow up. It served a purpose but like all models and systems, it must mature and evolve in order to survive.

Watch Kate’s Video Here  

If any of the economic shifts in my summary above are resonant for you within your business... things like greater adaptability, regenerative culture and maturing systems, contact us to talk through how we can work together.  

Traditional Philanthropy Is Broken

The trustees at Lankelly Chase want to find 'bold new alternatives' to what it called philanthropy’s 'cult of benevolence'.

“We have recognised the gravity of the interlocking social, climate and economic global crises we are experiencing today. At the same time, we view the traditional philanthropy model as so entangled with colonial capitalism that it inevitably continues the harms of the past into the present,”

What a superb step towards breaking down the psychological barrier that lies between the 'winners' and the 'losers'.

I very much hope and expect that many more philanthropic endeavours will shift their focus towards creating systems that distribute wellbeing, regenerate resources and adapt to what's needed.

Read the full article here

And Finally...

Instead of sharing a track that's inspired me this month, I'm sharing a poem.

Here's Rudyard Kipling's poem, If.

If you can keep your head when all about you  
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,  
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;  

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;  
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;  
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;  

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,  
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,  
   Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
   If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
   With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,  
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,  
   And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Let’s Work Together

We at Greaterthan currently have space to work with your business starting from September 2023.

Contact Sally McCutchion here to have a conversation about working together.

About The Author

Sally McCutchion is a Coach, Consultant and Facilitator who supports growing, purpose-driven businesses to lead beyond hierarchy. Sally has over 10 years' experience with both the theory and practice of self-management. She is a Certified Holacracy Coach and Consciousness Coach and is an active member of the Greaterthan ecosystem contributing through her expertise in business development, systems thinking, content creation and client projects.

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