We’re obsessed with trophies. We think only winners deserve them.
People went bonkers (positively) when NFL linebacker James Harrison posted this message about his boys.
I get it. I can see why some people think like that.
My problem is, by deciding to take away trophies, we’re sending kids the message that someone else is going to decide whether they’re winners or losers.
But that’s not my point.
My point is that trophies are irrelevant, maybe even harmful, and that only you get to decide whether you’re a winner or a loser.
I don’t mind when my kids get trophies. Nathan hasn’t found a sport he loves, nor has he been on a great team. But I’m glad he puts himself out there and tries hard. He knows his teams aren’t champions when the season ends, and he knows he isn’t the MVP.
I’m fine with him accepting the cute little trophy and enjoying it for a couple days. And I like that he eventually ignores it.
I’d rather him develop pride in the effort, and the journey. The trophy is irrelevant. He decides whether he’s won or not.
As we get older, I think the trophy mentality is dangerous. It’s why people spend so much money on massive trucks, huge houses, sports cars, lavish jewelry, and other things we think we’ve earned.
It’s filling holes. None of those things matter.
Being in the arena matters. Getting better matters. Being closer and loving more matters.
The things that matter in life have no trophies.
This is what I try to tell my kids. I tell them these things because I’ve learned them from my own experiences. I won a lot of trophies because I played on a lot of good teams.
Myself? I was average.
The trophies looked really good going into the dumpster a year or so after high school.
A Soapbox, Please
You can bust your ass and fill your role better than anyone else, but it may not matter. You may never get that raise, or industry recognition.
You can make more money than anyone else, or be the big dog at your company. It doesn’t make you a winner if you’re never happy. That Porsche, that house, or that gold chain look nice. But it doesn’t change the truth.
Life will offer you as much failure as you want. That’s alright – failure is learning. Everyone who tries to do something great finds failure a few times.
And when you win, whatever the hell you decide that means, give yourself some satisfaction. Then, find another mountain to climb. Find fulfillment in the journey itself, and make sure you bring others with you.
You decide what’s good enough. You’re at the mercy of no one but yourself, and you don’t need nice things to make you feel like you’ve won.
Trophies? They’re cool. I hope my kids get all the trophies they want. Then forget them just as soon.