I am involved, with others, as coach with a swim team. Today we brought a team to a competition and they swam their hearts out. Some were at their very first competition. Ranging in age from eight to fourteen they were a mixed bag of emotions, and personalities.
There was the very serious, hanging on every word sort of child. Determined to please and very competitive. As the day passed they blossomed into children who learned to lighten up a little, to enjoy the race and accept the outcome.
There was the very excited child, who didn’t really worry about how well they did, or how high the diving blocks were, or even what event they were swimming. As the day passed they tuned in a little better and began to want to compete and be as fast as others.
There was the child who lacked confidence. Who was unaware they were good swimmers. By the end of the day they wore the biggest smile and a new swimmer was born.
There was the child who had never won before. Disappointment at galas was the norm. By the end of the day they had got the result they deserved. Never giving up, and continuing to train hard, had at last paid off.
There was the child who is the very best at all they do. At the end of the day they learned that we cannot win all the time, but to lose having given your all is not a bad thing.
There was such a mixed bag of children in my little group today. All different, all learning their own lessons. As a coach I love to watch as they evolve over the course of a day.
They came to compete. Some to win, others to improve, all to enjoy the gala. However I have learned over time that while some will win, winning isn’t everything. Success cannot and should not always be measured by the number of medals taken home. For even those who do not bring home a medal take home something much more valuable, that cannot be taught in any school.
As we all headed home, I was content. They had swam brilliantly and pushed through their fears and fought their nerves. They had battled and won, and many had smiled through disappointment. They had sat as a team and cheered each other on, enjoying and not resenting friends successes. But above all they had all learned a very important lesson.
Yes they had learned winning is what they aspire to, but that winning isn’t everything.