As I grew up, like most boys, I often found myself injured in some way. Sometimes, the injuries were quite serious, while other times more minor. My mother used to tell me, “if you don’t get hurt, you won’t grow up.” Of course, I joked that if she was right, I should be 8 feet tall. But we all know that she was not talking about height. She was talking about growing up, learning to evaluate risk, developing the ability to appreciate the tough times.
This was long before the days of participation trophies and Kindergarten graduations. Back then, each contest had only one winner. Second place was the first place loser. Not everyone left with a trophy, ribbon, or certificate. You had to earn those by winning.
And you know what? I did not always win. Often, I failed. I took risks and paid the price.
I am not alone. We have all tasted the bitter sting of losing and failing to accomplish goals. The key issue was doing something with that experience. Did we learn from it? Did we learn what we did wrong, or found areas in which we needed to improve? Well, if we wanted to succeed next time, then yes. So being able to find value in the struggle itself was important, even when we did not win.
There is a nobility in effort, and I am not denying that. At the same time, it is ridiculous to proclaim that “everyone who participated is a winner.” If that is true, then what’s the point? In reality, it is nothing but an application of egalitarian communism into culture. We should hate that and get rid of it.
Today (February 17, 2017), Rush Limbaugh addressed this on his show.
And my fear is we’re not teaching competition. We’re shielding people from it. For the longest time children, you know, nobody’s allowed to win anything, participation trophies. But when you get to real life and if you really want to amount to something, when you get whatever line of work you’re in, as you get to the top of that line of work, there are very few people there. That’s why the phrase “rarefied air.” And it is cutthroat. The competition is cutthroat, even among best friends. And you have to be able to, by virtue of experience, be able to deal with it.
You’re not gonna win every outing. I don’t mean game. You’re not gonna beat everybody out for the top job. Sometimes you’re gonna be the best, but you’re not gonna get the gig because there are other factors, people making the decision might like somebody more than they like you. It’s vicious. And you have to be totally, singularly focused on yourself. Not in a bad way. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe there’s a reason you’re trying to pursue the highest levels you can go. That’s because you can do it and you can do it well and you can do it better than anybody else.
Limbaugh went on to discuss those that live in the world of participation trophies, not learning to struggle for their accomplishments. He has a word to describe such people: Victim.
And what happens to you when you’re a victim? Well, when you’re a victim, you automatically have a built-in excuse for failure. When you are a victim, it’s always somebody else’s fault. When you’re a victim, success is not possible. When you are a victim of something, you are acknowledging that you are as far as you’re gonna get, and you can’t get any further, because there are more powerful forces arrayed against you than the force of yourself against it…
Some of them are women, some of them are minorities, some of them are illegal immigrants — you name it — but they all have one thing in common: They have given up on the notion that they could be somebody and instead have descended into full-fledged victimhood and the comfort of being in a group of like-minded failures. Why isn’t everybody a victim? It’d be easy. Anybody could choose that if they wanted to. Being a victim is almost as easy as being a liberal. It’s one of the most gutless choices you could make.
It doesn’t take much. There are built-in excuses for failure. Built-in excuses for being miserable. Built-in excuses for being angry all the time. No reason to trying to be happy; it’s not possible. You’re a victim. Victim of what? Well, you’re a victim of derision. Well, you’re a victim of America. You’re a victim of America’s past, or you’re a victim of religion. You’re a victim of bigotry, of homophobia, whatever. You’re a victim of something. The Democrats got one for you. If you want to be a victim, call ’em up.
I encourage you to watch, listen, or read the entire exchange, linked above. It is worth your time.
The fact is that life is not fair. It is filled with trouble, hard times, and opportunities to lose – and you will lose sometimes. Maybe often. But that is fine, because the struggle is preparing you. It is strengthening you. It is providing you with a chance to learn, grow, and develop. Whether the pain is physical, psychological, emotional, or whatever, it is refining you to be better than you were yesterday, if you will let it.
Do not let yourself be defined by limitations. Just keep getting up and giving it all you have. Consider this great clip from Rocky Balboa. In this conversation between Rocky and his son, we get a good glimpse of this principle in action. The son is caving in to pressure and accepting a role as victim, limiting himself. Rocky will have none of that and tells him how life really works. He explains how “winning is done.” I know you have probably seen it, but it is worth another look.
Indeed. Life is going to hit you. You just have to struggle. My mom was right. You do not grow if you don’t get hurt. Put yourself out there and get busy growing.