The Character of Winning

Winning is big in sports, business and life. We want to be winners and part of something great.  This is what drives us to work hard, reach for our dreams and take on a challenge that once seemed impossible.  It can also cause some to put winning over anything and everything else.

The stories about the recent scandal at Penn State were painful to even read.  Did some look away because of their desire to be part of this esteemed football program?  Or, were there those who thought that if powerful leaders knew of the reports that was enough – even if nothing changed?  As my colleague John Whitaker said, it is the Enron of the sports world. Looking away for our own self-interest. Winning over everything else.

I recently watched a kicker of a nationally ranked college football team miss three field goals in a game with national championship implications. Following the game, the news and Twitter were exploding with anonymous, terrible comments about this young man. My son knows him and I know his mother. He is a real person and a fine one at that. He did the best he could do on that day, but it wasn’t enough.  His failure turned into a frenzy because of the fans powerful desire to win.  Soon after, he had to close his Facebook account and change his cell number because of threats and rude comments. Anonymous cruelty is still cruel. Winning was more important than anything else.

Regardless of your views on Michael Jackson, can we agree that his doctor placed a higher priority on the money and the access than the health and safety of his only patient?   Winning or financial success won out over everything else.

There are lessons to be learned in these recent stories.  Winning and success are something we all strive for in our work, sports and personal life.  I’m sure for each of the people involved in these stories, small decisions here and there added up to big ones. And, you can’t help but wonder if these same individuals made very different decisions in other parts of their lives when winning and success weren’t so powerful.

And, as Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, ‘The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Patti Johnson is the CEO & Founder of PeopleResults.  She can be reached on Twitter @PattiBJohnson.