Winning or Learning?

I am a competitive person. Maybe it is because of being the baby of the family. I always had to keep up, and somehow along the way it made me competitive. Now that does not mean that I always have to win (although it is fun). For me it is the journey that matters. How hard did I try? How much did I care? How much did I push myself? How much did I sweat? Did I improve at all?

For me the competition is often against myself, not others. It is about making myself better, stronger, faster, sharper. Can I do something I have never done before and succeed? And, even if I do not succeed, did I truly try? That is what matters most to me. I have a hard time when folks are lazy, or when they expect something to be handed to them on a silver platter. I have what I have in life because I worked my ass off, not because it was delivered with lace, bows, and doilies.

I frequently read Seth Godin’s blog and a recent one made me ponder the idea of learning and competition.

“Did you win?”

“A far better question to ask (the student, the athlete, the salesperson, the programmer…) is, “what did you learn?” Learning compounds. Usually more reliably than winning does.”

Short and sweet, but to the point. Trying is learning. Trying and failing then trying again and again is what it is all about, even if in the framework of competition.

What do you think?

Nostalgia of Girl Scout Cookies

I will always have fond memories of being a Girl Scout. I was pondering the impact it had on my elementary school days as I waited for Chris to break into our box of Samoas. You should have seen my face on Monday when I received my boxes of Girl Scout cookies. A huge smile, and pride for what those girls are hopefully learning about themselves, leadership, competition, friendship, and service.

There is a lot I do not remember, but I have tiny morsels of events from being a Brownie (pre-Girl Scout) and then the years I was a Girl Scout. I remember some of the ceremonies we had, that we each had to take turns bringing in the treat for our meetings each week, earning merit badges, and even dad and daughter campouts. I remember learning how to make blueberry muffins on an open fire by baking it in an orange peel. I know, strange that I remember that so vividly. I remember events my troop went to, prizes we won, and even scary moments, such as driving back from an event and almost getting hit by a drunk driver (seconds from impact).

However, what I remember most, and what was my absolute favorite month of the year was selling Girl Scout cookies. I was a fanatic. I lived, breathed, and slept with the idea of selling those sugar filled treasures. I mean, like Christmas, they only come once a year. Each year I attempted to sell more than the year before. I competed against myself and my own goals, the other girls in my troop, and the other girls in my county. See, I was a poor girl, and selling cookies not only benefited and gave funds back to my troop, but it meant winning prizes (such as tickets to a large amusement park, a TV, and a 12 speed bike). All things that were not in my realm or remotely accessible to me. So I sold, I charmed, I conquered. Want to see me in action?

I recently read this Fast Company article: “Lessons from Inside the $800 Million Girl Scout Cookie Selling Empire.” I agree with their five points discussing selling cookies, leadership, and entrepreneurship. It taught me a lot about what is mentioned in the article: money management (it felt like a lot of money to deal with at the time), overcoming shyness (that was never really an issue for me), business ethics (I sold ever single box, no help from the parents), setting goals (whatever the biggest prize was), and group decisions (not something I remember much about).

A message to little Girl Scouts out there: Make sure you make the sale and exchange the cash. Having your parents do it for you teaches you nada. While I am not one to encourage sugar indulgence, it is definitely hard to resist. Especially when you are walking into the grocery store. Go buy a box, and maybe let that girl creatively get you to buy two, three, or ten more.

Toys, Sesame Street, and Missing Match-Ups

I cannot remember having a favorite toy growing up. I do remember being addicted to board games. I loved the challenge, I loved the strategy, and I loved the competition. Recently my sister reminded me of one of my favorite and probably earliest games. It was a Sesame Street game called: Missing Match-Ups. The best way to sum it up was that it was the Sesame Street version of memory.

I loved it. I imagine I begged my entire family to play with me. They probably did just so I would stop asking. I remember being very good, and I have a hunch they were not letting me win. I never wanted that, I always wanted to win on my own merit.

I do not know if my love of games grew out of my childhood. What I remember most was that it was a time my family was together. Often my mom did not join us, but I definitely remember the many times that she did. I wonder today how often families turn off the television, their phones, and iPads and sit around a table with food and games and connect with each other (whether your family is young or old). It was a time I always cherished as it seemed that we each gave each other the presence of now.

Do you have a favorite childhood game?

“Worry about yourself”

I cannot get this little girl out of my mind. “Worry about yourself.” That is her tagline. She makes me think of me as a little girl. I was a bossy little one. My sister can attest to that. I do not know where I learned to be bossy or where it came from. The only thing I can think of is that I was the youngest. My sister and brother are four and six years older than me. I wanted so badly to be included in their world. I wanted to know that I belonged and that I mattered.

Maybe my way of trying to fit into their life was to learn things as quickly as possible so they could never tell me that I was “too young” to play or be involved in their world. That meant I tried to learn board games quickly and early in my life, and it meant I was competitive. I wanted to be included, and I hoped that if I was good, competitive, and I won, then just maybe they would want to play with me. I hoped it would make them want to try to beat me next time. Sometimes I think my deliberate actions meant they did not want to play with me in the future. Live and learn, right?

When I found the below video, I could not help but laugh and laugh. I love the sassy nature of this girl. She reminds me of a young version of myself. She wants so badly to figure it out on her own, without help, and then tell her dad to drive. That was me. Enjoy, “Worry about yourself.”