Do You Have to Be a Champion to Succeed?

Are you a champion at work?

Champion . . . winner . . excellence .  .  .  if you’re like most of the world catching Olympic fever, words like this are coming at you as frequently as a Ryan Seacrest reference to Justin Bieber.

Yes, for the next few weeks, our digital devices will be overrun with emotion-generating stories of superhuman efforts and long-cultivated ability. For some, those stories might inspire and motivate. For others, though, they’re a downer.

A downer? How? How can our quadrennial celebration of sweat and accomplishment take us down rather than lift us up?

It’s not because we’re a community of lazy couch potatoes–really. It’s because we know that the price to be a champion is high—and we think it’s more than we have.   

  • More time
  • More money
  • More energy
  • More support.
  • Maybe even more talent, more skills, more recognition, more luck.

And because we think the price is too high, we stop trying. Or we wait, thinking that our time, energy, and resource wallet will be more accommodating at a later date.

When we stop, or wait, we start believing we won’t be a champion, and therefore, won’t be a success. [Cue sad, weepy music. Sniff.] And somehow we get okay with that.

Ick. Let’s try another direction. What if I said you don’t have to be a champion to succeed? What if the price to be the champion you want to be has already been paid? What would you do then?

You May Have Already Won

With all due respect to those who thrive on the competitive spirit, I am increasingly seeing that competition is overrated in today’s world. I mean, c’mon—win/lose makes at least one of us unhappy, and there’s always the chance the unhappy will be you.

Instead, what if we recognized that we don’t need to be seen as “better than” on some imaginary scale, but be great at the things that are most important to us? That’s the idea behind bringing your superpowers to work—bringing it all to the table, not just things someone identifies as a competency in your job or a particular skill—but all of you, who you are, right now.

Here’s a story I read recently that helps illustrate this. (Wish I could find the initial source–if anyone in the community has it, please share.) It’s about Scott Adams, the creator of the cartoon (and now mega-industry) Dilbert.

When asked how he got started, Scott shared that he was just an “okay” cartoonist, doodling while killing time in meetings. He was never the best IT person (the profession that inspires much of his work.) He wasn’t the best manager, and wasn’t even a good businessperson.

But he took all of it, exactly where he was, what he was, in all of those areas, and created something fresh and new that he loved.

He didn’t have to be a champion, a winner at any one thing. He didn’t have to defeat anyone—except maybe his own doubts. He brought his superpowers to work–ones he already had–and made something special.

What will you do when you stop trying to be a champion, and start being more of who you already are? Trust me–you don’t have to be a Ryan Lochte or a Gabby Douglas to be confident that the red cape will fit.


YOUR TURN: What do you think–do you have to be a champion at all costs to be successful today? Or can you succeed being just who you are right now? Tell us what you think by replying to this post (below) or commenting on Facebook or Twitter.

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