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Learning to Win: The Win Principle

What is the object of life?

I’ve asked many people that question and I have received as many answers as there are grains of sand on a beach. When you ask people what the object of life is, you will get a panoply of interesting and creative answers. The religious will speak of the tenets of their religious dogma and how that defines their purpose on this earth. The goal oriented will speak about the need to attain set targets and the romantics will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart speaking about love and the beauty of the rising sun (or some such). I don’t necessarily disagree with any of these or a myriad of others who I have not mentioned; however, I believe that they are overthinking things.

Let me explain why.

I agree wholeheartedly that our lives have a purpose. If you don’t think so, it may save you time to close this page. I believe that we can’t just be here to float around, breathe air and excrete waste until we die. Our purposes are as different people on this earth may not be the same but we are all drawing from the same motivational reserve to be able to attain targets that lead us towards our goal. Therefore, the honest reality is that the object of life is to win.

Yes, to win.

Goal Orientation

Before you condemn my thinking as capitalist propaganda, hear me out. If you believe that your purpose is to help others by alleviating poverty, as an example, then if you are able to do that and help people around you, you have won. If your purpose is to make a billion dollars, once you attain that, you have won. If you believe you are here to find love and enjoy it then by attaining that, you have won. Therefore, the reality is that everything we aim for, dream or desire, whether it is for us or for others constitutes a win once attained. If we commit to it and search for it then, it follows that the reality is that we seek to win every single day of our lives. The basic reality is that human beings are goal-oriented creatures and by understanding that, we are able to motivate ourselves so much more and so much better because it’s always easier to run a race with a goal in sight. That is why people spend countless hours trying to learn how to set goals and drive towards them.

Human Diversity

It is important to understand that human beings are not one dimensional. Very few things in life ever are. So, you don’t live in this life with only one goal or one target for your entire existence. It would really be sad if people did because it would mean that if you fail (and failure does happen) then you may as well hang yourself on the nearest tree. The reality is that we have so many different things that we wish to attain, some big and some small. You could be a husband /.wife, a parent, an amateur sportsperson, a writer and a business executive all at the same time. Therefore, you want to grow your marriage, improve in your sport of choice, publish articles, provide for your children and make money all at the same time. The is no known limit to the things we can strive for. That’s because if there’s one thing that God gave us in abundance, it’s potential. What we do with it is another matter.

The Win Principle

The two ideas that we have introduced bring us to the win principle. We have understood that human beings desire to win, that is the object of life and at the same time, we desire to win on numerous fronts simultaneously. It goes without saying that with this multi-dimensional approach to life, not everything can go smoothly at the same time. At times one thing will go wrong or at times everything goes wrong and we stop seeing our targets in sight. That’s just the way it is. Expect it and anticipate it. In order to get the right drive to surge forward in our goals and secure those wins, we must be motivated. Motivation is really the desire to go on. It says to you, regardless of what’s on the ground, “Let’s go!” To be able to meet our targets and do the great things we would like to do, we must really keep our motivation levels up. The win principle is all about motivation.

Domino Effect

I have realised in my numerous personal and entrepreneurial battles that things can go very bad. And often, when you are juggling several things at the same time, one of them going wrong can throw a spanner in the works. That’s why you often hear that when people are having challenges in their relationships, their work also suffers. That is because the negativity of the area of your life that’s going wrong often carries itself into other areas of your life. It’s really a play on your motivation. A cocktail of losses demotivates and leads one to believe that there are losses in other areas of their lives. That assertion is often just an impression and often not the prevailing reality but by lacking motivation, your actions then drive the rest of the areas of your life into a nose dive. Therefore, a single real loss can create a domino effect by inspiring perceived losses which inform our actions and then create more real losses.

All is not lost though, (tuck away your hangman’s noose), the same is applicable to the reverse and positive side of life. In exactly the same way that losses demotivate, wins can motivate. A win in one part of your life can lead to a scenario where you believe that you can do anything. You begin to believe in yourself and you take on more and hence achieve more. Thus, a real win, creates a number of perceived wins which often lead to winning actions which inspire more wins in your life. Therefore, the pursuit of wins motivates.

The Power of a Single Win

It gets even better. One of the most interesting things that I have realised is that is that you can turn around a series of losses by attaining a single win. The power of a win often trumps the power that losses have over you. That’s because of how human beings are wired. We are naturally positive and aspirational creatures and therefore we embrace wins in a big way. It’s that same aspiration and positivity that allowed our ancestors to create fire when they were cold when it was so much easier to curl and die. It’s that same aspiration and positivity which has seen us continuously and consistently turn problems into solutions and that has become the bedrock of human innovation.

More interestingly, you don’t need to secure a win in the area in which you need it most or in the area where you are facing loss to be motivated. Allow me to explain. There was a point in my life when I was dabbling in a number of businesses and at the same time working on my fitness and health. Things in business were going badly and needless to say, my motivation levels were low. However, when I ran my first 5km run, I felt like I was on top of the world and I could do anything. I took that positivity and enthusiasm into business and that was our turning point.

Therefore, the win principle simply says that motivation is derived from wins and the wins needed to motivate a person or people do not necessarily need to be related to the area of loss. They simply need to be present and realised.

Perspective and Awareness

The last part is absolutely critical. You need to see a win as a win for it to motivate you. If you don’t, then it’s like it’s not there. Awareness of where you are, what you need and what you have is absolutely critical. Therefore, to bring it to a more practical level, when you see things taking a wrong turn in any part of your life and sometimes you can’t find a solution to a nagging problem, take the time to craft a win. We often know where it’s easiest to find that win. Go there and get that win, you will often find that you will create a reservoir of motivation and enthusiasm which often drives your turnaround.

The object of life is to win.

Garikai Nhongo

Garikai Nhongo is a Strategist, a Futurist and a Project Management Consultant working across the African continent. He contributes towards thought leadership in strategy, marketing and personal development. He is also a blogger at www.garikainhongo.blogspot.com, an entrepreneur, a published author and a poet.

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