COMMENTARY: What it takes to be a winner

BY Bill Reagan

Everyone wants to be a winner. To be a winner you have to know what winners know.

Winners know how to feel. Chariots of Fire is one of the great movies of all time. The most impressive scenes in Chariots of Fire are of Eric Liddell, a Scot, a committed Christian and an athlete in the 1924 Olympics who defied the Prince of Wales by refusing to run on Sunday. He was played by Ian Charleson in the movie. In the running scenes Charleson portrayed Liddell’s passion by throwing his head back and running with open mouthed abandon for the finish line. Passion will pull you through.

Winners know how to fail. Overcoming failure is our basic human task. Watch a baby. Everything a baby does is a new experience. They fail at everything, from walking to sitting to speaking until they succeed. My granddaughter likes chess. She plays for her school’s team. Chess is hard. It is easy to lose. Her coach is Mr. Galvan. He tells his team members, “You didn’t lose. You learned.” Failure is good for you. Everything we know we know because we failed.

Winners know how to forget. We all need mentors, trusted friends who have been down the road we travel. I’m pretty far down the road, but still have mentors. I remember the advice of a trusted mentor when my wife and I were starting our careers. “Will this matter in fifty years?” Forget the failures. Remember the lessons. Winners know how to focus. The Bible tells us, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Focusing on the future is always an act of faith. Faith in a worthy goal. Faith in the value of suffering and sacrifice. Faith in a future with hope.

Winston Churchill knew what winners know. “Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.