Winning streaks are impressive because winning all the time is against the Laws of Nature.
The Invincible Arsenal football team of the early noughties went unbeaten for 49 games — nearly a season and a half. That number is so unfathomably against the odds it boggles the mind.
Especially because it doesn’t get easier the more we win. It gets harder. The odds of failure double every time we roll the die.
The most exciting thing about a winning streak is that every win brings us closer to that inevitable loss.
Like the streaker who knows it’s only a matter of time before the security guards of fate crush his face into the cool grass of reality, we know it won’t be long before the odds catch up with us.
Most of the thrill of winning is knowing we must fail eventually and fighting on still. We feel it in our gut, as much as we wish it postponed.
And the longer a winning streak, the more we realize that failure is part of the fun.
Some say it may even be the whole point.
Not every win comes with a bottle of champagne and a big fat check.
Precious few do, in fact.
Many of the wins don’t feel like much at the time. Some of them even feel like losses.
It’s important to remember that when we get hit by a win that feels like a loss, the only way to tell if it actually is one will be in hindsight.
More often than not, when we look back, we find that even the big losses contributed to our future wins in some way.
So until you hear otherwise, treat every loss like a win.
If it isn’t one now, it will be later.
We saw it a lot last month, those golden moments of failure.
Athletes who tried their best and didn’t perform as they or we expected.
We saw many Olympians who spent the last four years or more preparing for that moment and found themselves wanting on the day, for whatever reason. That’s the way it goes.
On my bad days or weeks, it’s often a struggle to get out of bed, let alone perform on the world stage. But on their bad days, they still show up.
They shoot their shot anyway, knowing it will fall short. Accepting that this time, it’s just one more leg in their journey to the top of the podium.
And then they get up tomorrow and do it again.
There’s a lot that goes into winning at a professional level.
Most of it is off the field of play.
Training. Practice is everything when perfecting a skill and learning to play together. But we need more than that to reach the top.
Harmony. Harmony is more than teamwork.
Great teams are a symphony of minds. And that goes for all those involved, not just those doing the running around.
Harmony is every person playing their part in the same story — singing from the same hymnsheet.
Harmony of purpose and place is at the core of every world-beating business and every world-beating team.
There are few things worse than hearing the same tired old tune played badly.
Sometimes all it takes is a word and we feel out of place.
It casts such a long shadow of doubt over our plans that we decide to rearrange them completely.
We abandon our race.
But there’s a difference between listening to a coach’s advice and running someone else’s race. And the best coaches will tell you to always run your own race no matter what.
Even Usain Bolt can’t tell you how to run your race.
So what if someone thinks you’re going too slow or even in the wrong direction.
The best we’ll ever do when we run someone else’s race is silver.
We might not always win when we run our own race.
But we always have a chance.
As a great pugilist once said, the fight is won long before we dance under the lights.
Just like the race is run a dozen different ways before we even cross the starting line. And the book is written over hundreds of early mornings, with words that are never read.
The training we do every day shapes our future.
What does your day prepare for you?
Logic and tactics are rarely enough to win.
Some days, even if we love doing it, it’s good for us, and it’s worth doing, that rational part of the brain just can’t be bothered to put up a fight.
Pushing through on those days is the difference between good and great.
Doing it when we want is easy. Doing it when we don’t want to is the whole point.
The days when we take it pro and push through regardless of whether we want to or not are the days we make the most progress.
Because nothing worth having ever came easy.
Usain Bolt isn’t always the fastest man in the world.
Not all of Stephen King’s books are good.
And even Novac Djokovic occasionally drops a few sets.
All lovers hate each other sometimes.
All parents make mistakes.
Up must come down.
Everything goes around.
Nothing is the same twice.
And everyone gets another turn.
That’s the rules!
Scrapping the participation medal is a great idea. Losing is a prize.
The greatest thing about playing sports is winning, and the same goes for any competition. After all, that’s the point.
And the next best thing to winning?
Losing is the next best thing to winning because it means you were in the race.
People who have been forced to the sidelines are often delighted to lose because they finally got a chance to win.
And if you have been in with a chance for a while, losing usually means you’re a step closer to winning.
Another lesson learned. Another hurdle crossed.
Losing sucks. But it’s a lot more fun than spectating.