On Winning and Losing

The recent commotion about Lance Armstrong’s admission of cheating prompted a thought-provoking discussion about winning and losing between Jian Ghomeshi, host of the CBC Radio program “Q” and recurrent guest, actor/musician Torquill Campbell on January 24, 2013 (click here to download the podcast).

The thrust of the discussion was that it’s unfortunate that so many of us are trained to focus only on the importance of winning and being ‘The Best’ because the results seem to be feelings of aloneness and stress. Since there can only ever be one winner, Campbell suggested, winning is something we do alone; and because winning is made out to be of such great importance, the joy of winning at anything must be abandonned quickly in order to focus on trying to win the next thing. When we become convinced that the only thing that matters is whether we win, Campbell argued, we run the risk of being sucked into believing what he described as “the tragedy of the Lance Armstrongs of the world,” that winning must continue indefinitely for us to be okay as individual people.

By contrast, Campbell suggest, losing is a more collective experience because it is something that we all go through. Every single person has to face loss and struggle in his or her life and because of that, it is something that we do together. It may be that having things not work out as planned opens us up to empathy and wisdom because, he said, it forces us to accept our weaknesses and tune into our strengths in order to make it through the tough times. Campbell closed the discussion with the encouragement to strive to love and understand the weak things inside you because when you own those things as acceptable parts of yourself, you can take on bigger challenges more freely and with greater confidence that stumbles along the way are nothing more than just a part of the process.

Their discussion is an interesting one and occurs in the last 10 minutes of the show.



Shift Cognitive Therapy Oakville is a psychology practice that helps people learn to manage anxiety, stress and depression.