I am going to write something in which I have felt strongly about lately. And that is the topic of winning.
::For the sake of this post, I am not condoning not trying to come in first because we all know that's what we are out there working so hard to do. I'm also not saying don't set goals or push yourself as hard as you can.::
My entire life I have been into team sports. You win as a team. You lose as a team. Sometimes on your team you have sore losers or cocky winners but it is so hard to see because not one person defines the entirety.
Standup paddle boarding has pretty much been the first really competitive solo sport I have participated in, and wow what an eye opener.
You see, when you are performing alone, your character shines through on and off the water. How you carry yourself, how you conduct your behavior, how you handle wins, losses and challenging situations.
Everyone has their own achievements, the ones that make you choke up when you think back to them. Of course, there has been times when you do well in a race and want to cry because all your hard work is finally paying off…but to me... the best part? Is seeing that older person still competing, or my special Olympic athletes coming through their finish line with huge smiles not even caring what place they were in. The kid that catches their first wave who has the same smile that Roray Kam, on his millionth wave, has. Or as our friend Nessa smiles from the start to the finish and every second in between, whether she is in first or last! The JOY in sport and the happiness for personal success is the best part to me. It really has nothing to do with 1st place.
What I have realized throughout my career is about remembering the JOY of the sport. The PASSION behind the sport. Lets face it, theres only one "winner" of a race. Uno. Winning---it's just a plus feeling that might happen sometimes. It's about being happy for your accomplishments. 2nd place, 5th place, 20th place. You set a goal, you pushed as hard as you could, you finished. You did more than someone who isn't even out there did. And you should be proud. YOU ARE OUT THERE. And you are pushing thru the same sweat and challenge that everyone in that race did, regardless of placement! Every time you go out there is different. Different currents, different winds, your body feels different and functions different. Some days you feel great. Other days you feel like poo.
Yes I've won some races. And yes it feels amazing. And of course I will not stop trying every race. And at first losing was sad and frustrating. What did I do wrong? Why am I not good enough? But then the more I didn't come in first the more I realized it's not about that. Do you really want to walk around all day sad that you didn't win some paddle board race instead of partying it up with the amazing people in this community?? No way!! Your never going to always win. There's always someone out there in this huge world that is going to be faster than you, even if they aren't around yet.
As this sport grows I think it is important to not lose sight of where it came from and put a conscious effort to change our focus back on that. Because we all know this sport isn't going to get us rich but encouragement will help it grow and bring joy into others lives.
SO--really I just wanted to say that I am SO SO proud of all of my friends, and even those people who I haven't met yet, who are out there pushing themselves and enjoying the chase and remembering the joy of our sport. Don't be so hard on yourself, you're awesome :)