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?

She flies with her own wings

I have lived in Oregon for almost 11 years and I have a confession to make. I did not know our state motto until last week while reading: “Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them” by Issac Fitzgerald. I know shocking. I love my state. I love Oregon, Portland, and my little neighborhood. Our state motto though is downright badass. It is: Alis volat propriis in Latin, which translates to: she flies with her own wings. It means she is free, independent, strong. What is not to love about that state motto?

It does not say “he” it says “she” – after a quick Internet search I could not find a single other state that has a motto with “she.” Many had “he” or “we,” but no other “she.” An Internet search for Alis volat propriis also returns a zillion tattoos with the Latin version displayed on a plethora of body parts. While I do not like to be a follower, it is an intriguing option that might just get added to my short “I’d get that tattoo list.” Why does this saying tick for me? Why does it resonate so strongly? Many reasons.

I grew up fast. At the age of twelve, my mom was sick, and my dad was mostly out of the picture. I had to figure out a lot of things in my own way and fast. What does that do to a kid’s development? There could be a lot of differing answers. For me it meant I learned early to do my own thing. I did not like to do what everyone else was doing. I charted my own journey. No one was looking out for me, and I had to make sure that I looked out for myself. I flew with my own wings and I still do.

That is with Chris flying beside me.

Whether you are a man or a woman, fly with your own wings. Speak out with your voice. Be strong, independent and free. It might be my state motto, but it has also been my unwritten motto all these years.

Alis volat propriis.