Winning through character

Reseda High School FootballWe love winning. I’m happy the Dodgers are in the hunt for the World Series. I’m glad the Rams are contenders. And I’m especially proud of my alma mater Reseda High School as its Regents football team is having another great season.

As much as we love winning, it’s more important to win through character.

The headlines are filled with people in sports, entertainment, business, and politics whose wins turned out to be lies. They won through cheating, manipulation, and by using and abusing others. They committed terrible crimes, sometimes for decades. Once shining epics of glory turned out to be cautionary fables of hubris and humiliation.

True victories come from our conduct. To win through honest effort. To resist the temptation to cheat even if it improves your chances to get ahead. To stay true to your principles despite mounting pressures to give in. To remain humble and grounded in the face of adulation and attention. To maintain your dignity and self-control under the most difficult of circumstances. To respect everyone with the respect you want for yourself.

Winning through character is the only way to ensure long-term success. Fans can spend $150 on your jersey without having to burn it later. Corporate sponsors will trust that you won’t become a PR disaster. Parents will take their kids to see you perform because you provide them with a positive role model.

You will be able to take pride in your victories and know that they are a step towards a good and fulfilling life.

I told kids in our Little League, “Inside the fence, we play hard to win. Outside the fence, we are all friends and part of one community.” The world outside the fence offers us perspective. Winning and losing are temporary things. Our conduct, health, relationships, and self-respect matter much more. Winning through character gives us victories on and off the field. It makes us better competitors and better people.