I love competition. I love to win. Maybe it’s genetic or maybe it’s because I grew up with three older brothers and a dad who never let me win—I always had to earn it. That competitive drive is part of what makes me love sports so much. But as much as I do love sports, I am glad the rest of life doesn’t work the same way.
What do Charles Barkley, Dan Marino, Diego Maradona, and the late Tony Gwynn have in common? Each was among the best at his respective sport, but each one failed to win a championship during his career. They fell short of “true greatness” and now have a black mark on their otherwise stellar résumés, an asterisk next to their names. In sports, people are not judged by their talent, their effort, their skill, or their sheer excellence alone; they are judged by wins, especially championship wins.
Was Ernest Hemingway the best-selling author of his generation? Did Miles Davis win his share of Grammy Awards? How much money did Thomas Edison make from inventing the light bulb? Do you know who the best family physician in the world is? Did your pastor’s sermon win the award for “Most Awesome” last Sunday? Did the National Association of Mothers award your wife “Mom of the Year” last year? Some of these questions don’t make any sense and others don’t matter at all for one simple reason: What makes each of these people remarkable is not an award they won or a rank they achieved. What made them great was the work they did and how they did it.
Every aspect of life that matters is ultimately measured by a pursuit of faithful excellence, not by a scorecard or a trophy.
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