On the weekend, my 12 year old and I watched a move called Ender’s Game. It was about a boy named Ender who was selected to be the Commander of the Army that would eventually destroy their enemy, who you are lead to believe is going to attack them. I won’t spoil the movie, but at one point the Harrison Ford character says to Ender, ‘but you won!’ Exasperated at his lack of joy surrounding the success. And Ender responds with ‘yes. But it matters how you win.’ And I immediately called out ‘Bingo!’

That is exactly what I believe to be true. Its not just about winning, how you win is incredibly important. Take getting promoted; if you had to step over people or do things that jeopardized your character to get the promotion then I believe that kind of win will come back to you in various ways that are negative. How or when that happens is anyone’s guess.  

It is such an important lesson, cheating makes the win taste less sweet and selling off pieces of your integrity for more money or a better title will become very heavy baggage as you move through your life. I don’t believe people are inherently evil, some have mental circumstances that cause terrible and dangerous behaviours, but for the most part our ‘badness’ comes from our bad decisions coupled with our own internal conflict about those bad decisions. 

Not playing your best game has its own bucket of negative impacts. If you are on a team and you don’t give it your best then you are letting the team down as well as yourself. When you commit to someone or something you are pledging to a course of action. If things change for you, and they do, then your job is to inform the person or place you committed to what that change is and what it means to them and your responsibilities. 

Winning is victory. Victory is success. Success is prosperity. Prosperity is comfort, security and well-being. Comfort, security and well-being tie directly to the individual psyche because the definition of each differ from one individual to the next. Which means that winning can be directly tied to perception and our perceptions are again, individual. 

So, if you won and you had to kill people to get that win, have you really won? If you won at the cost of someone or somethings comfort, security and well being, have you really won?  And does it matter if others see you as having won? Or does it only matter if you feel like you won? 

I’m not sure I can sort it out for the masses logically or even meaningfully, but I know the difference when I’ve won at the cost of others versus when I’ve won and it benefited others. I would always pick the latter. 

Are leaders always winners? What if you sacrifice your team for a win? Are you a leader then? And what if you sacrifice yourself for a team win, are you a leader? 

No matter a personal win or a team win; how you play and how you win matter. It matters now and will matter later. It will matter in terms of respect that you build or let go of and it really matters for what your team will understand is acceptable in any game. 

I think its worth while to assess the cost and the pay off. What kind of winner do you want to be?

There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning. – Pat Riley

Patrick James “Pat” Riley (born March 20, 1945) is an American professional basketball executive, and a former coach and player in the National Basketball Association (NBA).