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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Will to Win

The will to win or an acquiescence to lose can each on their own become a closely held self-concept that is forever unassailable.  In a process of learning the self-concept is formed—one sees themselves as either a winner and potential winner or a loser and potential loser.  Once formed the reigning concept is highly resistant to change.

It is possible to equate quality of character with a winning attitude.  We say that a person has character if they do extraordinary things even in the presence of fear.  Their will to win overcomes all fear revealing inner strength.  Often we equate a strong will to win as an admirable characteristic.  But we must remember a famous Nazi propaganda film was entitled The Triumph of the Will.  It is clear that a winning attitude while essential for character is not is not a sufficient condition.

The obvious question that must be answered is what ultimate ends does a particular will to win strive to accomplish.  In sports, motivation often comes down to identity with a team.  Perhaps it’s our school team, our community team, or simply the team on which we’ve placed a bet.  In war a not infrequent attitude is “my country right or wrong, my country.”  That is, one needs look no further for justification than that it involves the motherland.  Yet, even so, there is the haunting feeling that there must be complex psychological reasons yet to be identified.

My own will to win was applied in attaining extensive education and training.  I can remember well the desire to do extraordinary things even in the presence of fear.  In a sense, there was a blind defiance of misgivings that my objectives could be realized.  But the real character test is not whether I persevered in education; but for what purpose did I persevere.  When I consider this, I’m afraid I can come up with less than stellar reasons—fundamentally there is a possibility it was to prove to myself and others that I could do it.  Beyond that, I really doubt that I had noble ends.  I did feel if I were successful, this would somehow honor my parents.  In the end, like in most such things, my final motives were mixed and largely unexamined.

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