There Are Times When Second Place Is a Win By Susan Leigh

Have you ever played a game with someone whose sole focus was to win? It can be a joyless, unsatisfying and singularly unpleasant experience, especially if we were really looking forward to sharing some fun times and enjoying each other’s company.
If our opponent is disinterested in anything other than winning we may even mentally walk away with a shrug and a resigned, ‘you go for it, I’m not that bothered’ mindset. Winning isn’t always about coming first; indeed second place can be a win, sometimes offering a more rounded experience.

Let’s reflect on those times when second place is a win:

– When you’re less full on you can relax and enjoy the game, become immersed in the process of taking part, playing, participating. Being solely focused on beating everyone else can mean that there’s little joy in the time spent together. It can make for a tense, stressful experience. A better time is had by all when everyone feels included, is able to relax and know that they’re not going to be judged or criticised for doing their best, especially when it doesn’t bring a win. I remember a time, years ago, when several of us decided to stop playing lunchtime rounders. The games had become so competitive, with team captains screaming orders, berating us if we didn’t catch the ball!

– Less pressure means you’re able to enjoy more comfortable relationships. Playing together, taking time to help each other, give advice and laugh at mistakes means you get to know each other in a more relaxed setting. You may be happy to help each other improve even though you’re technically there to win, sharing tips on how they can perhaps even beat you! It’s all in the furtherance of those friendships and afterwards you’ll all feel the benefits of getting to know each other better.

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– It’s important to reasonably often find ourselves challenged and stimulated in a myriad of ways. Sometimes that can be quite stressful. And yet, there are also many ways where we can challenge ourselves without becoming stressed and aggressive, where we’re not totally focused on the eventual outcome and whether or not we’ll come first. But some stress is good for us and keeps us on our toes, encourages us to think outside the box helps us push ourselves further.

– Looking at ways of keeping a game or competitive event interesting can include many skills. Reading body language, noting how your opponent plays their hand and making discreet observations and decisions can make it a more fun experience when you practise these skills. With that in mind you could choose to vary your game, play your hand a little differently, experiment and challenge yourself, rather than simply powering on ahead with the sole aim of wiping out your opposition.

Of course there are times when we really do need to be driven, committed and intent on winning, those times when coming out on top is the only thing we have in mind, but there are plenty of other times when it’s great to enjoy the game, have fun and share the experience with the others in the room. Sometimes you win far more than you lose by coming second.

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