Sunday, September 14, 2008

Winners and Losers

A loser is somebody who does not have a clear opinion of what victory is. Because of that wishy-washy thinking, no matter how things go, the victory will never be definitive. Loser knows that his victories will always be spoiled by a "but...", and this knowing kills most of the motivation necessary to win.

In a way, only dumb people can be 100% winners, because only dumb people don't understand that every situation always has two sides. You win something, you lose something. Primitive or single-minded people see their lifes as black and white, so their wins are always just wins, and their losses are just losses. As a result, they don't fight with themselves as much as losers do, so achieving a "victory" is easier for them - at least when it does not involve much of thinking or moral judgement.

As an example, here is why loser has all chances to lose in a serios fistfight, even when the fighting skills of both sides are equal:

  • He knows that he may be hurt badly during fight, so even if he wins, it is still a loss (potential health problems, socially unacceptable bruises, pain and problems with the law - especially if the opponent is hurt).
  • He knows that the opponent is probably just an idiot who cannot see the consequences of his acts - so there is no fun in punishing that guy - what's the point?
  • Several forces are struggling in his head - ego, fear, reason, testosteron... No matter how things go, some of these forces are bound to be defeated. There is no clear victory to look forward to. This internal conflict makes him hesitate and, if the fight (or, usually, pre-fight exchange of threats) goes for too long, it will psychologically wear him out. That's why most of fights, even between animals, are finished before they start - one opponent sees that he has no guts to go all the way to the possible end, so he quits.
  • He is not a hero, his self-preservation instinct is strong - he is a loser, after all, so his priorities are geared more towards survival, not winning.
  • He is not used to conflict situations as much as the other guy, he does not know how to communicate, and his verbal threats sound lame. He is ashamed of that, and it evaporates the last drop of motivation left in him.

In contrast, the "winner" guy is not built in such complex way. For him, the goal is crystal clear and the promise of victory has a definitely sweet taste. He only has to fight with the opponent, not with himself - that is much easier. So, soon enough he enjoys his ego-inflating victory, blissfully unaware of all not-so-good "side effects" that were brought with it into his life in a long run.

Yes, what about the "long run"? Loser eventually finds his own victories in situations where there is no human opponent in sight (be it collecting Star Wars figures or hacking a bank). He learns how to live with a shame of loss and realizes that it is not the end of the world. So, he adapts - but maybe by doing that he forfeits his chance to reach for the stars...

Winner, on another hand, has several dangers waiting for him: he may get seriously addicted to the win/lose game, and eventually encounters an even stronger guy who splits his spirit in half and plants fear into him. Or he may start treating every life situation as a battle, and ruins his relationships with close people, or just wastes all of his energy by trying to break through an unbreakable wall. He may also run out of challenges - if there is nothing left that is worth winning, but you still need your dose of whatever narcotic that victory produces in your brain, what do you do?

Well, you might ask, what is the right strategy then? It goes beyound winning and losing. First, it comes to single-mindfullness, "taming the ox" in Zen words, and mastering the forces that act in your head. Then, to stop being a loser, you need to let go of an attachment to winning as well - just outgrow this whole game altogether. After all, winning and losing, unlike survival, are just illusionary concepts that exist only in our minds. There is no victory or loss to speak about, if you don't believe in social rules that draw a division between them.

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