From Jim:

Winning is incredibly important. When you win you’re supposed to gain recognition, status, material goods, perhaps even wealth. Winning is supposed to supply pride and self-esteem so that when you look into a mirror the person staring back at you is someone you can be proud of, someone you recognize as a winner.

Presumably your sense of self-esteem as a winner would arise from and be consistent with the values that make up who you know yourself to be: even more so, the person you want to be in your own mind as well as among those you know and who mean something to you.

But What Does “Win” Mean?

A quick look in the dictionary ( yields the following definitions of “win:”

To conquer or defeat --- To prevail over in a contest or a battle;

To gain something with an effort --- Effort implies obstacles that must be subdued;

Coming in first --- outdoing others who are after the same end;

Take possession of --- often violently.

I was not surprised to find this set of definitions because, no matter how you may rationalize it, no matter how you may manipulate the idea to make it less black and white, it has to do with somebody gaining and somebody losing. And you don’t have to have been around for many years to know that the winner never really wins because the loser will get you back in some way---even if it’s a different contestant who rises to challenge and defeat you.

How about win-win? This construction is supposed to mean a guaranteed favorable outcome for everyone involved. If you extract the gain-loss formula from an interaction it’s possible both sides can win. But you have to apply a very strained manipulation to skirt the somebody-gains-and-somebody-loses implications of the word “win.”

So it seems winning necessarily implies losing and losing implies defeat and defeat implies resentment which leads to the downfall of the winner in the long run.

So What Now?

What if we re-conceived “winning?” What if we took out the gain-loss implications? What could winning then mean?

For example: what if winning was about self-expression? Granted that expressing anything well requires an effort. But internal obstacles don’t have to be subdued. They can be leveraged and integrated.

How about a desire to have an impact as your driving intention? I’ve just published my first novel on Amazon entitled Worship of Hollow Gods. It took me a year to write and edit it and during that time I had no desire to defeat or overcome anyone. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t want it to be number on Amazon or anywhere else but I have no interest or desire to take away from anyone else what they’ve gained so that I can advance. I would like the rank of number one to arise out to the value of what I’ve done.

Another element of the re-conception of “win” is a deep and sincere care for the well-being of the users of your product. Of course you want to make as much money as is reasonable to you and within the limits of your conscience. And yes a product must make money to survive. But what if your deepest intention is to satisfy the needs of those for whom you make your product? That would make you a winner of a very different sort with very different implications.

Three other possible elements could be self-growth, customer growth, and your company’s growth. The typical and now defined understandings of “win” would need not apply.

How would you re-conceive it?

Does “win” have to mean gain-loss? Does it have to imply win-lose—win-win notwithstanding?

And yes, being number one does not have to be abandoned. It just has to mean something different than it does now.

Author's Bio: 

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous