We’re slowly turning into a society of losers.
A quick tell that proves the point? It’s taboo to mention the concept of winning and losing. More and more society is shifting to make ambition synonymous with greed, winning with evil, and success with selfishness.
It’s all BS. People who cling to these ideologies do it for one reason. They just don’t believe in their ability to win. And they want you to feel bad for doing what you want with your life. Don’t let them.
If you think society is against you, cool with me. Live your life. If you think it’s impossible to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, then don’t even try. It’s a free country. If you believe that winning and success are greedy and selfish concepts, then I applaud you for graciously stepping aside.
Now, for those of you that are still here, I have a single message that will provide the theme for this entire post: stop apologizing for what you want.
Some people wear mediocrity like a badge of honor. These are the ‘content’ ‘grateful’ and ‘humble’ people of the world. On the surface, those traits seem positive. And if you truly practice them, they are. But often people use these concepts as a disguise.
For example, you should be grateful if you don’t live in abject poverty in some third-world country, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue goals that matter to you. In a way, it’s a little bit selfish to avoid opportunities you have available to you because some people are dying to step into your shoes.
Let’s next look at humility. Let’s take a look at the definition of the word from the literal dictionary:
Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.
Are you not important? Do you not have something important to provide for the world. Do you not have the potential to follow an important mission? Yes, there’s such thing as an overblown ego, but I reject the idea that there’s massive virtue in acting unimportant. Plus, I know human nature.
All you do is think about yourself. Often, people who claim humility just have an inverted sense of arrogance. They find their importance in their lack of achievement. At least you get a sense of earned accomplishment when you do something.
There is such a thing as knowing when to stop. If you’ve spent years working to build a life you really enjoy, it does make sense to stop and smell the roses. I’m not here to judge you personally, I just want you to take the time to think about whether or not you’re really there yet. If not, focus on winning for a while and see how it takes.
But what is the point of winning anyway? Isn’t the pursuit of success inevitably hollow? Shouldn’t you be content with what you have?
Material success does not make you happy. The ideal state is to be content with what you have right now. You can achieve success in certain areas of your life only to find the results weren’t as awesome as you thought they’d be. And on the road to achieving certain accomplishments, you can lose things that matter to you, let down people in your life, crater relationships, all of that.
So, why do it?
Again, remember, I am not trying to convince anyone. If you think the price you need to pay to get what you want is more than you’re willing to shell out, then forget about it. Seriously. This is for those of you who have that itch but also still have these conflicting feelings about achieving your goals.
I have many reasons why it makes sense to unapologetically pursue what you want, but some of my favorite and most important ones are:
The bottom line: maybe getting what you want isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but why not find out for yourself? Be honest with yourself about what you want and go from there. Don’t take my words at face value without skepticism. And definitely don’t let your peers, family, friends, or society make that decision for you either.
There’s a ton of messaging woven into society about why you shouldn’t want to win and why you should be more apologetic. These messages try to associate guilt and shame with going for what you want.
I could write a whole book filled with nothing more than these messages and scripts, but let’s look at a shortlist:
It’s no coincidence that you rarely hear these messages from people who are focused on their own lives, have a mission to pursue, and work hard for what they want. The only types you hear this from are those who have none of the above or those who profit from the messaging.
Notice that all the politicians who tell you to “eat the rich” are rich. Notice that all of the writers on Medium who decry the evils of capitalism don’t post their articles for free and make a great living with outrage click-bait pieces. Understand that if your job is to seek out injustice, and you get paid handsomely for it, you have zero incentive to actually fix it and every incentive to blow it out of proportion.
Don’t get duped. Watch what people do, don’t just listen to what they say. Do what you want.
If we were all being honest with ourselves, we’d admit to more or less the following. We want to be financially well off. We want to have an attractive and loyal partner. Maybe we don’t all want to run a business, but we want a career we enjoy. We want to wake up every day and feel like we have something important to do. We want to feel like our lives matter. Our definitions of winning and success do vary, but we all have them and we all know whether or not we’re living up to them.
If the outside messaging wasn’t bad enough, you price yourself out of your own success, too. You engage in self-sabotage, lie to yourself, and trade certainty for freedom. Why do we do this? Again, so many reasons. Some of them have to do with our own inner resistance. Others have to do with the way others see us. And usually, the reasons are a combination of both.
So, we cope. We tell ourselves convenient lies. We rationalize. Hell, this entire piece is pretty much about rationalization. And it’s one of the most difficult things to shake. How do you do it?
There’s no magic answer other than to take a brutally honest self-assessment and map out a process to get what you want based on that assessment. Attempt to be objective as possible. Base your aims on your opinions and your worldview above others. Accept upfront that there will be many negatives along the way and make the decision to pay the price. Way easier said than done, I know, but this is the way.
Honestly, this piece could’ve been much shorter. I said everything that needed to be said in the headline itself. But I felt the need to hammer in the message because you’ve been taught the opposite message your entire life. And you’ve probably internalized it, even to such a degree that you might not even know you’ve had these messages implanted in your mind.
Of course, I’ve had messages implanted in mine, too. I’m no original thinker. I realize that my notions of success and rugged individualism have been implanted in my mind by Western Culture. Maybe I shouldn’t want the things that I want. Maybe I should just read The Power of Now over and over again while meditating in my minimalist one-bedroom apartment. But, I’m not going to do that.
I have a philosophy on life about winning and I’m going to follow it. If you’re still here at this point, I suggest you follow it too. Focus on having that yin and yang spirit in your life. Simultaneously focus on winning at all costs while realizing it’s ultimately meaningless at the same time. Focus on winning because you have a chip on your shoulder and you want to climb the ladder, but also realize that the true game you want to win is ‘you vs. you.’
Petty desires and meaningful goals both serve a purpose. You are a spiritual and divine being as well as a biological one. Honor both. And at the end of the day, even if winning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, it’s definitely better than feeling like a loser or feeling like you had all this potential you left on the table.
As far as other people, especially those who want to make you feel bad about going for what you want, fugghedaboutem. They don’t pay your bills. They don’t exist in your body. And they don’t live your life. You do. And you’ll never escape that. You have to look in the mirror every day and you are going to judge yourself one way or the other.
Why not just win?