Winning... Still The Only Option!

Every time I would be watching a match on the television, there'll be people behind my back stopping time and again to inquire about the game. 'What's the score?' they'll ask. Even my mother, who may not quite follow any particular sport, ends up asking 'Who's winning?' after some time.

There's something about 'winning' that attracts everybody all around us.

Countless are the inspirational speakers who have made quite a lot of money by quoting Vince Lombardi alone. Their success rate at inspiring even one member from the audience is however, dubitable. Countless still, are the inspirational non-fiction books in the shelves of a bookstore. Some of them even best-sellers! They all seem to promise the ultimate 'winning mantra' to their readers. And yet their contribution in influencing readers is something we can only guess at. Countless again, are the people who roam around pointlessly being part of the 'herd', oblivious to the fact that the only difference between them and that of a winner, is perhaps their own attitude.

From a historical viewpoint, winning is an attitude that is primarily witnessed at a race-track. An Olympic athlete prepares almost all his life for the one moment when his performance surpasses that of his competition as he emerges a champion. Competitions are so high, that many athletes miss the Gold medal by even a tenth of a second! But every subsequent installment of the sporting event brings forward exemplary performances again and again, that break barriers of human potential all over again. It brings us to ask, is extreme, norm-defying performance the only way left to win?

In the history of a hundred billion years, the human race didn't just outdo almost all competition that it faced on the face of the planet if it was not in it's genes to compete.

Many movies have been made on famous personalities and teams who have known defeat earlier in their careers, only to be inspired to go great lengths to rediscover their winning ways and come out as champions against all odds. Each seem to tell a slightly different story, but seemingly remaining equally inspiring all the same. Being in the academia, I always get that boost to work harder and harder after watching the ordeal that Prof. John Nash had to go through in the movie 'A Beautiful Mind'. Although it was made with a lot of artistic liberty, the backbone of the supremely talented professor's story is about his awe-inspiring struggle!

From what I've gathered from my experiences, my knowledge of certain things, and books and movies of the aforementioned genre, there always seems to be two kinds of winners and thus two kinds of winning. Not always the most apparent icon of a win, turns out to be the only winner! Take for example, my favorite band, The Beatles. When we think of them, we always remember the faces of the four young chaps from Liverpool - John, Paul, George and Ringo. But little do people remember George Martin who was not only their producer, but also accompanied them in some of their most popular numbers at times! (You might want to listen to Penny Lane and In My Life again). So if the quad-core of Beatles were a winning combination, so was Martin. Just not all that apparent perhaps.

Another good way to explain it would be to remind oneself of the newly elected black president of South Africa congratulating the Springboks' white captain for their famous win in the final game of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The South African team under François Pienaar's leadership played an inspiring game. With Nelson Mandela as their invisible 16th man, the team defeated the formidable Kiwis to welcome, for the first time, the birth of a united Rainbow Nation!

As he prepared to hand over the cup to his captain, he said: "François, thank you for what you have done for our country." Pienaar, with extraordinary presence of mind, replied: "No, Mr President. Thank you for what you have done." - John Carlin, 'Playing the Enemy'

While François Pienaar's name was registered forever in the annals of sports history, Nelson Mandela's decision of donning the Springbok's jersey (something, they formerly recognized as a pro-apartheid symbol of the Whites) ended up winning hearts of even his enemies. Pienaar was the face of the win - the more apparent winner - and Mandela was the machinery behind it. Without one, the other cannot be fully realized. They were two different kinds of win, and the difference between them must be recognized again and again.

Some say that our society has an almost unhealthy obsession with winning. Either that, or the way we define winning is unhealthy.

The long-standing trend in the society is to laud the winners and to forget the runners-up. There is absolutely no doubt regarding the discipline, focus, sacrifice and talent of a winner, but does falling just short of the ultimate glory make the runner-up unworthy of our admiration?

Everyone likes a winner, and everyone likes to win. While they want you to talk about teamwork, cohesion and balance at a job interview, they still end up selecting the cream of the crop. In the corporate world, which is the most intense battleground for competition, the hunger to reach the top remains a fundamental force in the success of the human race. In this race of climbing the corporate ladder, there have always been winners and clear losers. And sooner or later, everyone feels pressurized to adopt a rather workaholic lifestyle to suit their ambition.

But the workaholic lifestyle allowed one's obsession with winning in one area to lay waste to other parts of their lives. Former stockbroker at L.F. Rothschild and later, the founder of the disgraced brokerage firm 'Stratton Oakmont' - Jordan Belfort - would perhaps agree with me on this. And since 2013, we all know him by rather a nom de guerre 'The Wolf of Wall Street' - don't we?

Winning seems to require a single-minded passion and unidirectional motivation towards whatever one is interested in. But if you ask me, I believe that there should also be some room for doubt. Strange? Well, I was speaking to a friend of mine a few days back, and she spoke about how she's being attracted towards a left-wing study circle in her university campus. But as I spoke to her a few weeks later, she started to complain of their narrow-minded approach. 'Why do we read Das Kapital all the time? Why can't we be allowed to read George Orwell, even if only for comic relief?'

How do we ascertain a winning attitude if we always keep reading out pages from our own bible and not even consider what the opponent has to say? If we don't understand what we're fighting, we never win. It's that simple.

To me, a winner is not only the person who stood first among peers, made a lot of money, earned a respectable name for oneself in the society but only to retire in obscurity, years later. A winner to me, is a winner in all aspects - a leader perhaps, who motivates people rather than killing them in competition. A winner is one who constantly tries to better previous successes and in doing so, ends up inspiring millions to follow his example. That, unto death. There isn't a retirement from this.

Since we're at it, discoursing on the various aspects of winning - a boring topic if you'll consider my opinion on it - few people I know think that winning also requires a bit of luck. But that depends mostly on what kind of achievement you're willing to consider as a 'win'. There have been a lot of talk in recent times about awarding the Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar and ignoring Major Dhyanchand. But in my personal opinion, while both were legendary game players and achievers in their respective fields, Sachin's achievement was a little different than that of Dhyanchand. Blame it on the socio-economic condition of the country at the time these giants did what they did, it was Sachin, and not Dhyanchand, who inspired a whole generation of players! The players in the current Indian team have all been brought up thinking of Sachin as their role-model. And even after retirement, his winning smile, humble demeanor and winning attitude, remain exemplary to millions all over the world. So, solely in my opinion, conferring the Bharat Ratna to Sachin over Dhyanchand was totally justified.

Till yesterday, society's attitude towards winners was such that only a tiny percentage of people could attain the success, and that too through a kind of single-minded focus that can create a narrow and limited life.

But this attitude is slowly changing and winning is being redefined for the future.

Winners are people who continuously thrive to better their past results, who consistently invest effort, persevere and keep working towards their goal regardless of the final result. Winners are those who provide direction and motivation to others and reconfirm the saying that 'the journey is as beautiful as the destination'. Winners are the people who leave a lasting impression to inspire millions. We come to accept that while it is very painful to hit at hurdles occasionally, to buck up and rise from the ashes (as they say) everytime, account for the tiny 'wins' in our daily lives. And that's something we all should look forward to again and again!

In practice, champions soon realize that winning is never to defeat an opponent or to vanquish one's rivals. It is, and has always been, rather to fully realize one's own potential.


While I consider winning to be an extremely important topic to talk about, as an essay this topic sucks donkey balls on a blog! But a winning attitude is to keep a straight face and write about it, while always keeping the ultimate prize in mind. Did I just defy everything I wrote earlier? I sincerely hope not! But an incentive is always, ALWAYS, a good motivator. This post has been written as an entry to a contest organized by and the India Today Conclave 2014. Know more about the event (March 7 & 8 2014, New Delhi) at and about the contest at Original Images: Image 1: Pienaar and Mandela, 1995 Rugby World CupImage 2: Sachin Tendulkar at 2011 Cricket World Cup and Image 3: Teach For India campaign


  1. Wow, what a concentrated writeup. Really words falter. A real classic take on win.

  2. Thank you Pramod ji. Your comment was much appreciated.

  3. Congrats for Winning! Now Luck & Plans fall in place :)
    Winning is also a part of our destiny :)

  4. Hey Deeptimaan...beautifully written...Congrats! Hope you will have a great time there :)

  5. Thanks Ekta! :) It was such a great surprise, yes, I hope it turns out to be an even greater experience..

  6. Yes @Anita, yes indeed! I feel unbelievably lucky at the aftermath.. :) Like I mentioned at the IndiBlogger forum, the trip was planned long back. To get this invite by chance feels brilliant!

  7. Great post...Winning should never be about defeating opponent but rather to fully realize one's own potential.

  8. you've touched a lot of different shades of winning.. Makes a good post:)

  9. Couldn't agree more to you, "If we don't understand what we're fighting, we never win. It's that simple."

    Congratulations D for Dilli Calling !

    Pay us a visit sometime,

  10. I loved the colours in your header and the way you described the middle class, Deaf Mamma! :) Will be reading your more often then. And I'm glad everybody liked my post, and the views I put up in it. Thank you soooo much! I hope we could all gate-crash the event, not just the select few of us.

  11. Awesome!! This was the winner post for sure and you did it! Congrts! Kept nodding my head while reading through your intriguing post