I remember as a carefree kid how good it felt to win my first bicycle race.
It was a 10-mile time trial put on by my cycling club. There was no pressure to win. I was told by my parents “to have fun”. So, that’s what I did. And, I won.
As I got older the pressure to perform increased as I moved up the ranks to higher levels of competition.
And, I often saw that the harder a person tried the less fun they had and the worse their results became.
It was odd to me that the harder you try the worse you might perform.
But, what was even more baffling was the solution people applied to declining results. They tried harder and focused more intently, which, predictably, produced worse results.
That didn’t make sense to me at that age. But, it happened with such predictability that there had to be a reason for it.
I even saw that in myself. Sometimes the more I wanted something and the harder I tried the worse I performed.
That was tough on me.
I don’t lose well, especially, when I’ve put in the time and effort to perform at my best.
It’s not a “me verses them thing”.
I just want to see what I’m capable of.
So, one day at an important competition the pressure I felt was so bad I couldn’t take it. I was at my absolute limit. My mind was racing and my body turned to cement. It was as if I was a separate person than the one that had trained to compete.
There was no way that I could perform at my best in the state I was in.
So, I decided right then and there, on the spot, that I wouldn’t take the pressure anymore.
And, if I had to “not care as much” about winning to preserve my sanity then that is what I would do. I literally stopped caring as much. It was over.
But, I still had to compete.
As I went to the starting line, “not caring as much”, I felt loose, was aware of my surroundings, talked with a few friends, thought about what I was going to do tomorrow, all the things “I shouldn’t be thinking about” if I was going to put in my best effort to win.
As the race began I felt fluid and relaxed.
Time stood still.
I felt super-human and wasn’t bothered by my “more accomplished” competitors who “I should be worried about”. They didn’t exist for me.
I didn’t care.
So, they had more wins than me.
I was having fun; it didn’t look like they were.
Honestly, I didn’t care if they were or weren’t having fun. They weren’t me. And, I knew what I had to do for me to have fun – I just needed to “not care as much” as they did.
So, I didn’t.
I didn’t care if I won or lost.
I only cared about me being free, totally free, to put my best effort forward to see what I could do.
To my surprise, I won the race.
I won by “caring less”.
At that moment, I vowed then and there I wouldn’t make winning the omnipotent, dominant force in my life.
It wasn’t my God.
It wouldn’t be the scorecard I would judge my life by.
My conscience and spirit at that moment selected to pursue a life of dedication to excellence as the driver.
It wasn’t an act of will or self-interest from me.
It chose me, I didn’t choose it.
To create excellence to honor life’s privilege is what I would aspire to with all my heart thereby honoring my talents, family, friends, mentors, benefactors and to show others what was possible.
And, as long as I’m having fun I’ll have the best chance to put in my top performances and honor my creed.
I had fun writing this post.