Winning & Losing: A Matter of Perspective

I don’t have to be a mind-reader to take an educated guess about what you did last night: you watched the Superbowl.

And the Winner Is…

Last night saw several winners:

  • The almost obligatory puppy-n-horse induced tears won great audience reviews in between plays;
  • Bruno Mars won the attention of older audiences with his throwback, R&B style and charm, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers won some mad props for going nuts and shirtless while jumping across the stage at halftime;
  • The Seattle Seahawks won BIG over the Denver Bronchos, 43-8;
  • Seattle quarterback Russel Wilson won the hearts of fans when he related his “Why not you?” story in the post-game interview; and
  • Seattle linebacker and one-time underdog Malcolm Smith won respect for defensive players everywhere when he walked away with the MVP.

But in my mind, the prize goes to Denver Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips for his winning perspective.

Perspective, Not Outcome, Determines the Win

After the Denver’s devastating loss (and I don’t say devastating as hyperbole. I mean, at one point I switched to the Puppy Bowl because I was ready to cry for the Broncos), Shaun Phillips had the following exchange with his son over text:

Shaun: Sorry I let you down.

Jaylen: It’s ok daddy u r still my hero

Shaun: Well at least we get to hang out now.

Winners Find the Positive in Every Situation

I read an account of Stevie Ray Vaughan, ranked by Guitar Magazine as the 8th best guitarist in the world. When he was a young teen, he worked in a restaurant. One day, the manager asked him to stand on a wooden board over a barrel of discarded frier oil to hose off the grease that had spilled down the sides of the barrel. When young Stevie stepped on the board, though, it cracked, sending him chest deep into a vat of filth.

The restaurant manager fired him on the spot.

What was Stevie’s response to this unjust firing?

“Cool,” he said to himself. “Now I’ll have even more time to master the guitar!”

It is our perspective, not our circumstances, that dictates our victories.

Winners Take Losses Today to Forge Wins Tomorrow

I read about a military officer who went to war commissioned as an Army Captain, but he returned a Private. He then tried his had in business, and he failed at that, too. Next, he decided to study law, but even after passing the BAR, he barely eked out a living. Disgusted, he decided to make a run as a politician. He was defeated in his first run for the legislature. The next time he ran, he was defeated even in securing his party’s nomination for congress. Next, he was defeated even as the commissioner of the General Land Office. He then ran two unsuccessful bids for the Senate, both ending in defeat. And then he lost in his bid for the vice-presidency.

Instead of quitting, he learned from each failure along the way, picking up a lesson here and there that would eventually serve him very well when he eventually got elected as the 16th and perhaps most beloved President of the United States. President Lincoln’s character was not built in the White House as he took on the Confederacy and fought against slavery; rather, his character grew from every defeat that got him to that point.

It is what we do with our losses that dictates our victories.

Winners Plan for Success Today, Not Tomorrow

Bill Gates slept through many high school classes because most nights he climbed out his bedroom window and worked from dusk to dawn on a computer at a local university. Bill Gates built his success by following his passion to learn and then master the then-new world of computing.

Gates didn’t wait until he finished high school to pursue his dream. He didn’t wait until he secured a university degree to start. He didn’t wait until a kindly, successful IT executive showed him the ropes and mentored him. Gates didn’t start his dream tomorrow. He started it now.

Winners don’t start tomorrow. They start today.

It is in our planning and executing TODAY that dictates our victories TOMORROW.


I have no doubt that we will hear more about Shaun Phillips and the Denver Broncos in the years to come. It’s so easy to stay motivated when the fans are cheering you on and calling your name. But winning is more than wearing the ring or hoisting the trophy over your head. Winning is a perspective that winners take with them at all times. Even when they lose.



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