*Disclaimer* This post will be overly opinionated and very possibly seen as extremely rude. If you are an ‘everyone is a winner’ type of person, do not read this post unless you are okay with reality smacking you in the face.
‘You’re all winners!’
How many times have you heard that load of crap over the past few years? It seems like I hear people saying that more and more these days. It is obnoxious. There is no such thing as everyone winning. I am all for marketing fluff and maybe even less than genuine praise, but telling someone they are a winner when they are most definitely not is just wrong. There is some pretty good evidence I have up my sleeve to support my theory about winning. Here is it is:
Thanks for the clarification, Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
My favorite description of what it means to be a winner is definition a: one that is successful especially through praiseworthy ability and hard work. I looked all through the different types of definitions and trust me, no where does it say you are a winner just for showing up or participating. If you’re wondering what had happened to make me go on this rant; let me explain.
A few days ago I was working a venue that had some street performers. Musicians to be more specific. It is a weekly event that I work and the performers change out almost every week. Naturally, some acts are better than others. (I’ve actually bought CD’s off of some of the performers in the past.) Now although I know some weeks will have better music than others, this week’s performers were the absolute worst I’ve had the displeasure of listening to amplified by a mic and a speaker. They were so bad, multiple vendors and people attending this event had asked these two ‘musicians’ to either turn down the volume of their speakers, or stop completely. How embarrassing right? I bet you’re still wondering where the ‘everyone’s a winner’ thing factors in. Here it is…
The street performers this week happened to be two younger boys (maybe 11-12 years old) who looked to be brothers. They were doing a great job playing the guitar and piano. (I’m not entirely evil here, I give credit where credit is due.) They even had some confidence in their performance. They looked like they actually believed they were going to be the next Jonas Brothers. But still, their singing was God-awful. It was the kind of sound that made you wonder if your ears were bleeding. (I checked my ears for blood a few times.) How terrible right? How could a grown woman say such bad things about two kids trying to get their big break? Ah… Remember I told you there were others going out of their way to tell them to turn it down or stop all together? At least I am kind enough to wait a few days then go on an internet rant about it. Sheesh!
I tried to like these kids and their performance. (That went on for 4 hours I might add.) I really did try my hardest. I mean hey, I was a musician for quite some time. In fact, I played the clarinet as early as 5th grade! But my mom was nothing like the parents of these two kids. When vendors would complain to the band manager, (aka dad) he would start freaking out talking about how talented his boys were and they should shut the F up. Christ bro. Seriously? That was how I figured out what the problem was with the kids. They actually believed they were good. Their parents believed so much in the everyone is a winner mentality, they let their kids look like talentless spoiled brats in the middle of a downtown beach city. They wouldn’t allow any idea other than their kids being perfect. Sigh…
Like I mentioned earlier, I was into music for a while. I still am to some degree I suppose just not how I used to be. My mother was and is still the most supportive mom on the planet. After a musical aptitude test administered in grade school, they determined I had a ‘natural talent’ and encouraged me to play an instrument. I can’t remember why now, but I chose the clarinet. Ended up switching instruments later on in life but that’s a story for another day.
My mom was so proud of this ‘gift of music’ that was discovered we went out and rented a clarinet and I started going to an after school class. One day, I decided to practice my brand new talent by playing musical scales on my clarinet in my bedroom. As soon as I started ‘playing’ the clarinet my mom rushed in the room in a panic. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me the following words with the most love and genuine encouragement possible:
Honey, I truly thought there was a cow that broke into the house, went into your room, and was and was dying because of the sound you’re making. I’m relieved to see it is only you practicing your clarinet. But since there are other people who live in this house, I am going to need you to practice in the garage with the door closed until we can tolerate the sound you’re making. I know how great you are or will be and it won’t take long until you can practice in your room again.
For anyone who thinks my mom was a heartless bitch, you’re wrong. Thank God she let me know how bad I was. If my mom hadn’t been honest with me I never would have worked to get better at anything. I went on to be first chair of the all state band in junior high and high school because my mom was honest with me. Thank GOD my mom trusted me to be able to handle rejection and criticism. If it weren’t for her, I would never push myself. I couldn’t imagine a world where I thought I was the best at everything. Striving to be better only makes you appreciate your own successes that much more.
It would save everyone a lot of trouble if we could just be honest with one another. Don’t let people think they are successful just for showing up. Success in any aspect is worth deserving. Striving for greatness is half the battle. Quit thinking people can’t handle the truth.
Trust me Jack. They’ll handle the truth just fine.