How to Live Like a Winner
The audience applauded as the speaker strode from behind the curtain and positioned himself behind the podium. When all clapping ceased, he stood for a moment and waited for the silence to filter out the echo. After his introductory greeting, he moved from behind the podium, and took his place behind the free standing mike. With hands clasped, he began to speak again.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there are many ways to define a winner, but I want to focus on the one that’s most important to me. A winner knows how to accept what he cannot control. Acceptance is an important lightning rod that turns a loser into a winner.”
From my third row, fourth seat, I had a clear view of the speaker’s face. The telltale signs of a surgically corrected cleft palate gave a slight twist to his smile. Ashamedly, I wondered if he had begun life feeling like a loser. I brought my thoughts back to the moment.
“Please, he continued, “write down one reason why you decided to attend. Why did you choose to take two hours out of your day to attend this seminar?”
Whyhad I come? I came because the title of the brochure on the table in the church lobby felt like a dart that had found its target. “Are You Living Like a Winner?” After reading it, I checked for scheduled time and place?
At mid-life, I had few meaningful successes to celebrate. I wasn’t a loser as some would define it, but very often felt like one. Not only was the reality of the waning years before me, but I was also locked in a losing struggle with Purpose and pleading with him to release the answer I needed for the next half of life. The search for a raison d’être had not been particularly invasive before, but now…
So here I sat amidst a crowd of seekers, waiting for a foolproof formula for future success.
After giving the audience a chance to write down their answers, the speaker resumed talking.
“I assume most of yours answers are quite similar. You have come because you do not feel as though you’ve accomplished your goals. In your opinion, you’ve watched from the sidelines while the years slipped by. Am I right?” Several brave attendees raised their hands.
“As some of you can see, I was born with a cleft palate. It took several operations to correct this genetic defect. During those years when appearance mattered most, I wondered how and why God would create someone that society considered imperfect. Thoughts of inadequacy and failure were embers I could never quench. They smoldered in my consciousness and kept me from thinking I could succeed at anything. I considered myself a loser.”
He paused for a moment, “Like some of you.” And it seemed as if his eyes bore into mine. Had he read my mind?
He paused again, and I had to admit, like the finely executed soliloquy of a skilled actor, his perfectly timed pauses spoke louder than his words.
“For the first half of my life,” he continued, “I sat on the sidelines with an empty scorecard, and never realized that what I couldn’t control was controlling me. Even though I was a Christian, I wasn’t winning at life because I was coached by the wrong voice…my own."
With one finger pointing at the audience, he shot forth. “What voice are you listening to? Who’s coaching your life? I challenge you with that question, because one day I heard a similar challenge. What I heard changed my life forever, just as I hope it will change your life. I suggest you write down the following principles that work no matter how you were formed by birth, or what you have yet to accomplish. Because, you see, we were all born with one or more talents, and there’s a useful purpose for each one. We simply need to remember three principles.
1. Never judge yourself by what others think about you.
2. Never judge yourself by what you think of yourself.
3. You’re only a loser when you give up trying to win. A winner never quits.
“As I grew older,” he concluded, “and began to experience the stigma that comes with congenital defects, I lost all hope of feeling normal. Today, I play life’s game with confidence because what I lost made me a winner.”
Years have gone, but I still remember.
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