What We Learn From Winning

by Lance Ekum on · 36 comments

Czech Rep Winning the Cup_2
Creative Commons License photo credit: ahaoreporter

“The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.” ~ Vince Lombardi

Winning.  A feeling of euphoria.  A feeling of accomplishment.  That moment when we achieve the success we’ve been striving for.

Soccer season began this past weekend.  I have a team of twelve 9-year old boys that love soccer, and have a real desire to play hard and win.  Over the summer, the team we had (many of the same players) had a very tough loss where I wrote about the lesson we learn from losing.

This weekend was the start of a new soccer season.  A group of 9-year old boys who love the sport.  Tough losses from last season were forgotten.  Practices to start the new season were filled with much learning.  There was a real sense of positivity on the whole team.

Game one of the season.  We were playing on all cylinders.  Passing was excellent.  For the most part, kids were playing their positions.  The kids and I quickly felt confident about our effort being put forth.  We started the game strong, and finished with an easy win.  Everyone was excited with our first performance of the year.  As coach, I was extremely proud of their performance, and of the attitude they displayed during and after the game.

There were several things we took away from this win.

  • Teamwork: By playing together as a team, we had success.  There were moments during the game when one person would become the team, and forget everyone else.  The result:  we would lose the ball.  Conversely when we really worked together as a team, passing the ball, playing the positions, we had success in moving the ball up the field and getting a shot on goal.  Takeaway: To be successful in life, we’re not going to do it all by ourselves.  We’ll need the help of others along the way, and we’ll need to work with others and develop a team attitude to get many of the things we desire in life.
  • Basics: In practice, we have been working on the fundamentals.  Passing, dribbling, shooting, defense, endurance.  We go over these at every practice.  The idea is that we need to have the basics of soccer down before we can move on to more advanced moves.  We need to master the fundamentals.  These need to become second-nature.  Takeaway: To be successful in life, we need to get the basics down, as well.  Things that we practice over and over, learning the basics of life.  Things like manners, personal care, love, …  Things that will endure.
  • Attitude: Attitude is an important part of playing sports.  In losing, or in winning.  In winning, it was important that we not run up the score, and be gracious when shaking hands with the other team after the game.  Knowing what it’s like to be on the other end, it is important that our players treat the other team with respect.  Takeaway: We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude – whether the outcome is good or bad.  We can choose to be positive, or we can choose to be negative.  And, in choosing a positive attitude, we have a much better opportunity at success in our life.
  • Have Fun: I have a team of boys that all love soccer.  They are there because they want to play.  They are out on the field during the game, laughing, cheering each other on, and generally just having fun doing something they love.  Takeaway: When we do something we love, and have fun doing it – success is with us every step of the way.

Winning!  Something we all love to do – whether that’s a project at work, a marathon, or a life lived the way we desire.  And, if we work hard, have a positive can-do attitude, and have fun – then we have given ourselves the ingredients for a life filled with many successes.  We will have created a winning life!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara September 9, 2008 at 5:30 am

My son is in a tag rugby team which he attends with his dad and it has taught him some great lessons. But it is also the thing he looks forward to with his dad (he is such a mummy’s boy!) and it has really strengthened their relationship.
But all the things you talk about, my son has really picked up through watching the Olympics which he adored. He tells me: “It doesn’t matter that they didn’t win, does it mummy. It just matters that they took part and enjoyed it. They’re all winners aren’t they? They all get imaginary gold medals.” God love him!

Taras last blog post..Am I the only one with fond memories of 9/11?


Stacey September 9, 2008 at 7:07 am

This is great – a little friendly competition is healthy and can really bring people together. I’m glad you included attitude, because if the only thing you think about is winning, that’s when things can get ugly. Someone has to come in 2nd, right? I took rowing lessons for the first time this summer, and that was an incredible lesson in teamwork and attitude, made me realize “I’m not alone here” and working with others can create wonderful things!


Chris - Zen to Fitness September 9, 2008 at 7:10 am

Awesome post. I really need to get back into playing a sport competitively its a great feeling to have team mates and work together collectively to achieve something. Thanks so much some great points dotted around the article….

Chris – Zen to Fitnesss last blog post..5 Reasons to Grab a Grapefruit Today


Annette September 9, 2008 at 8:43 am

Congrats to you and the boys on the win! I enjoyed your post and the examples you gave on what it takes 🙂 All of these can be applied to our daily life. I think being on a team is so valuable for a child….kind of a lesson they can look back on and reflect and grow from all through their years.

Attitude is the one trait that really needs to be brought to the spotlight. You can be the best athlete on the best team, yet drag so many down with a bad attitude. What an awesome place this would be if we could all put a little more emphasis on our attitude…win or lose….smiling through it all!

Annettes last blog post..If I Had More Time…


Stacey / CreateaBalance September 9, 2008 at 8:50 am

I see self esteem in the eyes of my son when he wins. However….when he doesn’t win, my 4 year old tells me “it’s okay because it’s not about winning…it’s about having fun.” My heart melts every time I hear this.

Stacey / CreateaBalances last blog post..Personal Development Mantra


Brandi Magill September 9, 2008 at 9:43 am

Congrats Lance, but the ultimate win was yours, seeing your coaching skills being displayed on the playing field by the boys…what a feeling that must have been!

Brandi Magills last blog post..I’ve Fallen…


Bobbi September 9, 2008 at 10:13 am

I like your view on winning! Winning is different things to many different people. To me winning in a race would be amazing, but for others getting out there anf finishing is a win for them!

Bobbis last blog post..So fresh and so clean, clean!


Vered - MomGrind September 9, 2008 at 10:58 am

“We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude.” Amen to that. I really like your approach to winning – there’s too much talk about winning being unimportant when in fact winning is a positive experience, as long as it doesn’t take over other important values.

Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..You Read Women’s Magazines? I’ll Give You Ten Reasons To Stop


Irene | Light Beckons September 9, 2008 at 11:29 am

Hi Lance, congratulations on the win! Great take-away pointers you’ve got there. I remember your previous post on defeat too … there will always be valuable lessons to learn from every situation.

Irene | Light Beckonss last blog post..Epiphanies From Freaking Out


Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk September 9, 2008 at 11:44 am

I’ve never been athletic so couldn’t participate in team sports, but I have been on great teams at work…it’s a great feeling. I also believe in attitude, continually practicing the basics, and having fun. You’ve really nailed this one!

Jean Browman–Cheerful Monks last blog post..Making Hay While the Sun Shines


Mark Salinas September 9, 2008 at 11:50 am

The positive experiences taken from a win or loss shows much character. As always your posts are full of valuable lessons. Thanks!

A goofy error popped up…so I did post comments twice. If it is a repeat my apologies.

Mark Salinass last blog post..The Active Child with Rosabel Yip


Lanceman September 9, 2008 at 12:32 pm

@Tara – Rugby, that’s something we just don’t have much around here. And it looks fun! Part of the joy of coaching is time spent with my son. I think he likes it too. To be out and competing, especially at the Olympics, makes a winner in my book. Your son has an awesome attitude!

@Stacey – Attitude is so important. And I think that team sports are a great way to teach the importance of attitude in different situations. Rowing sounds really quite fun – makes me wonder if we have something like that around here…hmmm…. And to be able to really develop teamwork and camaraderie is a big component to success as a team (no matter what kind of team it is).

@Chris – Zen to Fitness — Your welcome! Yes, team sports really do help to strengthen the idea and importance of teamwork.

@Annette – Thanks, it really was a feel-good moment for the whole team (me included)! Sometimes you wonder if they (the kids) are getting the same lessons out of this — and I think they do to and extent, but the other side is — it could be something that they come back to years down the road and make a connection.

@Stacey/CreateaBalance – That is pretty awesome, and something I’m sure he learned as well at home. Your heart should melt, and it should also feel joy. Joy in knowing you’ve passed valuable lessons on to him which he is showing through his actions.

@Brandi – Thanks much! I joke sometimes that it’s my great coaching skills (we’ve had our share of losses too) — but truth be told — I think it’s because the group of kids I have on my team really are team players with a real love for the game. I’m just lucky to have them all together with me.

@Bobbi – When I first competed in triathlons and 5K races, it was a win for me just to finish. Then, as I got better, it was a win for me to do better than I had the year before. Like you, I think winning would be amazing (especially considering the speed at which I run, or my swim stroke). Good luck to you in all the race you compete in Bobbi!

@Vered – Yes, I see both winning and losing as important. We can learn much in both.

@Irene – Thanks! And yes, we learn so much both in winning situations and in losing situations – as long as we open ourselves up to what those moments are.

@Jean – That’s the thing – teams can be athletic teams, work teams, volunteer teams, etc. And any of these, when you have a great team of people and great attitudes, make all the difference in the world!

@Mark – Right, character sure can shine through – in both wins and losses. Hopefully it’s the character that is positive and affirming. And that’s where attitude really comes into play.


chris September 9, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Winning is also a habit. If you’ve never won anything then you won’t know how to win. So the important thing is to set yourself up for minor victories so that you can train yourself for the BIG WIN!



Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations September 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm

My son is a great athlete and he has had coaches over the years that have tried to feature him as the star player. We as his parents have had to take them aside and let them gently know that we have our children in sports to learn TEAMWORK!
That’s why they call them team sports LOL!
Sports are a great place to learn some important lessons about life. Great post!

Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirationss last blog post..The Power of Your Secret Weapon


Linda Abbit September 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm

My son played youth basketball for many years and had many great and one or two not-so-great coaches. I wish you were one of them, Lance — you’d definitely be in the great category. Those boys and their parents are so lucky!

As Wendi says — sports and life lessons often coincide. Thanks for pointing them out!


Dr. Cason September 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Very nicely said Lance. They are lucky to have you and each other.

Dr. Casons last blog post..A Doctor’s Life


Sara at On Simplicity September 9, 2008 at 6:02 pm

I love that you consider manners to be some of the basics of life!

Sara at On Simplicitys last blog post..Fiddle-dee-dee! The Art of Scarlett O’Hara Optimism


Ellen Wilson September 9, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hi Lance,

My son used to play soccer, too. I think he would have gone farther if his self esteem was better. I always encouraged team sports to help his self esteem. He has always been shy, but seems like he is becoming more of himself now.

A lot of hardwork goes into a win. The hardwork that most people don’t see (if you don’t play a team sport). I’m thinking of the writing life now. But the blogging life often seems like a team sport to me. At least I view it that way. I think it works best if we all support eachother.

Ellen Wilsons last blog post..My Social Experiment: RSS Numbers


Lanceman September 9, 2008 at 7:10 pm

@Chris – Thanks! And great point – small wins build confidence, and instills the habits it takes to get bigger wins. Good stuff!

@Wendi – Another great point – one great player does not make a great team. It takes a whole team, working together, to really have success. That you have talented players helps, but only if they work as a team.

@Linda – Thank you so much for the compliments! And, yes lots of life lessons can come from sports. It may not be that they “get” them all at nine years old, but maybe someday down the road it’ll all come together – that’s my hope anyway.

@Dr. Cason – Thank you. And I consider myself lucky to have them, as I learn from them as well.

@Sara – OK, I do consider manners one of the basics of life…now if I could just do a better job of using them myself…at least that’s what my wife would say. I try, but sometimes the “kid” in me comes out!

@Ellen – My oldest son was shy when he started playing team sports as well. We wondered if he would continue on. Now, he really enjoys them. I think it takes time for each of us to develop into the person we want to be – in fact, I think it’s a lifelong process. For some, sports is a way to develop. For others, it’s academics. And yet, for others it could be something completely different. As parents, I think we are best off to help and encourage our kids in new and different things as they find what it is that really clicks for them.
Blogging as a team sport – I like that! I’ll take you on the team I’m on – really I think we are on the same team. Thanks for your support here, it means alot to me! And that’s another life lesson – from sports or blogging. Support. We support each other, and lift each other up…


Evelyn Lim September 9, 2008 at 9:48 pm

It’s timely that you are writing this post. I can’t say that I don’t love to win. With my new Mind Movie video up on Youtube, i’m hoping that it will soar. But the winning is not the winning on numbers but that it wins the hearts of all who view it.

You sound like an excellent coach. Under your care, I am sure that the kids win not just in scores but the things you’ve inspired and taught them about.

Evelyn Lims last blog post..My Abundance Mind Movie


Jenny September 9, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Teamwork is always best whether in a sport or an office. If one person on the team can’t hold up their end of the bargain, there are others there to offer support. It’s always nice to see legitimate teamwork that is not forced!

Jennys last blog post..Don’t Laugh At…


Barbara Swafford September 10, 2008 at 1:12 am

Hi Lance,

Great job! Congratulations on the win.

I agree teamwork is very important, and we can’t do it on our own. I love the takeaway point you made on attitude. “We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude – whether the outcome is good or bad.” I think that often comes with maturity, but once we “get it”, we are SO much further ahead.

Barbara Swaffords last blog post..NBOTW – Putting His Spin On It


Robin September 10, 2008 at 2:46 am

Hi Lance

I like the last of the lessons best – if we try to work towards doing what we love, we’ll learn what we need to know along the way. (I can just picture them all their on the field having a great time – it must be satisfying for you to be involved with the game)

Robins last blog post..Feelings Are There To Be Felt


Lanceman September 10, 2008 at 8:55 am

@Evelyn – I think we all love to win! By putting your heart into your movie, I’m sure you’ll “win”. That’s the thing, we get out of something what we put into it. Whether that’s creating a movie, doing a project at work, or playing on a sports team.

@Jenny – Teamwork is best, and if we can learn that at an early age – it can only help us when we’re older too.

@Barbara – Thank you! Yes, attitude is such an important facet of life – and something I hope to instill in these kids at a young age.

@Robin – It is satisfying, especially when I really see them come together as a team working toward a common goal.


Glen Allsopp September 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Nice to see England (?) up there as the winners! Great post, I’m glad you included Attitude as I think that is one of the main things that people miss, they either come into something negatively or with over the top positivity. I think being Neutral but ready to work hard is the best ground.


Glen Allsopps last blog post..The Art of Authenticity


Mike Foster September 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Winning in life or on the youth soccer field, these tips, and this post, offer great insight into what goes into success and enjoyment. Learn the basics, work together, have a good attitude and have fun…what more can you ask for?


Mike Fosters last blog post..Just Do It? Ten Tips to Get You Started


Cath Lawson September 10, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Hi Lance – these are great tips – I especially like the remembering the basics one. Stuart used to coach junior football and he still is enthusiastic about it.

Cath Lawsons last blog post..Blogging Without A Business 3 – The Practical Stuff


MizFit September 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm


I do think that I missed out (cue sad clown ) since I never competed when I was young—in ANYTHING.

Im so not competitive today and I wonder if that’s some of it?

food for thought.
thanks lance!

MizFits last blog post..The winner of the Concept2 rowing shorts is (not being presented by Will Ferrell &)….


meleah rebeccah September 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Team Work and a Positive Attitude are sooooo important

meleah rebeccahs last blog post..My Daddy And The Tire


Marelisa September 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm

You won, congratulations! I think that even when we win we need to review what we did well to make sure that we do it again, and where we could have done even better so that we can continue to improve. You’ve done that analysis in this post.

Marelisas last blog post..30 Tips for Getting Along With Others


Lanceman September 10, 2008 at 8:51 pm

@Glen – That can sometimes be the hard part, trying to keep things somewhat neutral – especially on a win. And with so much excitement over a win, that can be somewhat demoralizing for the other team. On the other hand, I want them to bask in the glory of their wins also. Balance is a key…

@Mike – Yes, there’s a lot of great lessons we can learn from this. Hopefully the kids get some of them along the way.

@Cath – The basics are so important. It’s not always the funnest things to do, but if you can master them, you are so much further ahead. And, I think once you’ve coached it really gives you a different appreciation for the game.

@MizFit – Thanks!! Maybe competitiveness goes back to when you were younger. Maybe part of it is just your genetic makeup. In either case, you’re alright in my book either way.

@Meleah – They sure are, no matter what it is we do…

@Marelisa – Thank you!! Yes, it is important to review both the good and the bad. It’s something we usually do at the next practice after a game. And, I try to have the kids tell me what worked and what didn’t – so I can also hear what they are thinking.


Tammy Warren September 11, 2008 at 9:37 am

Coaching is the best. Both of my children play sports. The oldest likes everything and the second likes everything the first does not. Go figure that out. I was able to coach basketball for the past two seasons. I know that I gained more than they did. I am such a “team” coach. At the age of 7-10 it is hard to convince the children that everyone deserves a chance. As a coach, you carry a big responsibility. A great deal of the time, what you say, how you coach, and how you communicate to the parents makes a difference as to whether or not they will continue with the love of sports or let it go.

My oldest is the defensive football captain for his middle school team. He is learning real fast the responsibility that he has a team leader. I can’t wait to watch him mature this year with his new role as a team players.

Tammy Warrens last blog post..Long past due again!


Lanceman September 11, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Tammy – Hey, my wife coaches basketball too. She helped out with our 13-year old last year, and before that with our daughter. So, they play all different sports – that keeps you into everything I bet! I agree completely, especially at this age of 7 – 10, of letting everyone play, and letting them develop a love of the game – not a distaste for being yelled at, ridiculed, etc.

That’s really pretty cool your son is the defensive captain! What a great way to learn leadership.


Leanne Magraith September 12, 2008 at 3:19 am

Isn’t it great when the game plan comes together nicely and you have a great win?
Congrats to you and the team. I like the points you made about pratice, attitude and fun. You need them all to succeed.

Leanne Magraiths last blog post..There are Four Elephants Waiting for me in my Car


Lanceman September 12, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Leanne – It was really nice to have everything come together – even the attitudes of all the kids on my team – that’s what really made it great! Thank you!


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