Success Is Not A Zero-Sum Game

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a fantastic start.

The weekend is over and it’s back to the old grind. You ever notice how, when we want a new job, we’ll do anything and everything to get it? We send out resumes, we dress up, we interview … we’d rub ourselves down with alcohol and jump through flaming hoops if that’s what it took. But once we’ve got the job, all we think about is the alcohol. Go figure.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Or, as Erma Bombeck so eloquently observed, the grass is always greener over the septic tank. I’m sure there’s some hidden motivational gem in there – I just haven’t figured it out yet. But I have noticed several clumps of bright green grass in my back yard that coincide with the dog’s potty habits. Move on, Dave.

We always want what we don’t have, and when we’ve got it we want something else. That’s human nature. It begins not long after we first open our eyes and realize somebody else has something we don’t. It could be a scrap of toilet paper, but it’s the most awesome and fun-looking scrap of toilet paper on the planet. And if we get our hands on it – in the mouth it goes.

This concept is on full display with my two youngest grandchildren. Okay, they’ve stopped eating toilet paper, but if one has a toy – any toy – it becomes a conquest for the other to get it away from them. They know the rules of sharing … it’s yours until you put it down. And if the other yawns or scratches their nose, it’s gone. Not very quietly, I might add.

And as soon as that toy is gone, the one they were playing with swaps hands, and the cycle repeats itself. They both strut around with their new treasure, until the other looks away from theirs for just a second. It’s their first lesson in legal justice – possession is nine points of the law. And if all else fails, it simply comes down to which one can throw the best punch.

You’d think we’d outgrow that as we get older, but we really don’t. We want what’s in front of us until it’s not in front of us anymore. Oh, we’re proud of our accomplishment and we revel in it for a while. Until something shinier comes along. Then we immediately launch a plan to get it. Thankfully, biting and pulling hair isn’t part of the plan. Most times.

And you know what? That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful, or that you’re never satisfied with what you’ve got. It simply means you can still dream, and you’ve still got enough inner drive to achieve even greater goals. Okay, it means you can wish for it. Sometimes, we’re a little lacking when it comes to motivation. And that’s what stops most of us dead in our tracks.

In business, I hear people all the time saying, “I could never succeed at something like that. It’s just not who I am.” Fair enough. But you know what they say … behind every successful man is an astonished woman. So, let me ask you this. How many times in your life have you succeeded at something to the point that you shocked even yourself?

If you have a job, you succeeded at something most of us don’t really enjoy, where the odds of success are stacked against you because there are several, maybe hundreds, of other people trying to knock you out of the running. And they may not punch and pull your hair, but they’ll do anything possible to stack the odds in their favor, because only one person can win.

But success is not a zero-sum game where one person has to lose in order for another to win. And even though you may keep score, nobody else does. Oh, maybe if they think they can laugh at you for still being in the hunt. You know the quickest way to shut people like that up? Quit. Give up. They’ll stop talking on the spot, because now you’re just like them.

Now, if the message you took from that is to stop trying, we need to talk. Nobody’s opinion matters besides your own. And in chasing your dreams, you’ll encounter lots of other people with the same goal. But unlike that one position the company is hiring, any number of people can achieve the same dream. Unless the dream is to beat everybody else, and then you’re on your own.

It’s fun to win, but winning means somebody else has to lose. And sometimes, that somebody is you. Find something where there’s room for everybody, where there’s no hair-pulling to hold you down, and give it all you’ve got. Success is easy once you learn how to create your own.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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