The Harsh Truth- Not Everyone Wins


Let’s stop the whining and the “its not fair”, and get on with it!


When I was raising my kids there was this disturbing culture in children’s sports, everyone wins. As a young, naive Mom I went along with it. No matter what happened during a game, no matter who screwed up, everybody got a trophy or ribbon. WTH?

If there is one thing I regret as a parent it was raising my kids with the everybody wins BS. What a disservice to my kids and all of the other kids that grew up believing no matter what, they will always win. Wow. And some people freak out about the Santa Clause myth.

A friend of mine recently shared a link (if you’re offended by foul language I encourage you to let it go and read it), it inspired this blog.  Reading it I was reminded of two things. First, I wished I raised my kids with the understanding that there are winners and losers and there is a direct correlation between the actions of both.


Second, winners know failure is part of the success equation and they take failure as a lesson versus their fate. Losers give up based on the belief  that failure is their fate.

Personally, I, we, can get awfully comfortable. When I do that I forego my innate desire to push forward and make an impact, a big one. This article reminded me to re-energize, re-focus and hop back on that horse. These two words jumped out, giving me a much needed swift kick to the head. Bitter vs. motivated, wow.  The writer went on to say, “….largely determines whether or not you’ll succeed in the world.”

Think about it. All those kids raised to believe they automatically win are likely bitter that the world didn’t deliver. Hopefully there are those that escaped never-never land and realized you win when you exhaust all avenues and continue full speed ahead. They also likely recognize failures even if they briefly divert their efforts as simply lessons in what not to do and move forward.

I think success is also a matter of action versus reaction. Winners constantly take action willing to risk failure because they know its temporary. Losers react to the negative letting it permeate their psyche ultimately stifling growth of any kind.

Aside from getting a good laugh at Lenny Kravitz’s expense, this article made me think and inspired me to do what I do best, full speed ahead, filling voids, making a difference with ‘ner a thought of the f-word – failure, just to clarify.

If we look at the 18-30 year old kids that we raised with the “everyone wins” mindset, they were set up for failure. For those that have figured it out and moved onward and upward, good on you. For those that haven’t here’s my advice:

1.Read the article again.

2. After you read the article, stop making excuses for your failures and recognize and embrace your talents, perfect them, find a void and fill it, keep pressing on.

3.  Remember the only way one can win is to rid themselves of the belief that everyone wins just because. It’s that thinking that will hold you back and prevent you from being an authentic winner as a result of hard work, focus and the desire to positively impact your world. You don’t just get to win, you have to earn it.

Do you think success is a right or a privilege?

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.



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11 responses to “The Harsh Truth- Not Everyone Wins”

  1. I totally agree with you, and think we’ve raised a generation of entitled kids in many ways because of this. I remember when my kids started sports in first grade and I couldn’t believe that instead of teaching them that sometimes you actually lose and it’s not the end of the world, they were receiving trophies just for playing. There was little incentive for practicing and improving to win. This is an important post, and I love your line, “You don’t just get to win, you have to earn it.”

    • Thanks Lois! I had the same experience. In fact, one parent actually bought her child a trophy because he didn’t win his swim team competition. What’s wrong with that picture?

  2. Success is a privilege, though I will say that raising a special needs kid makes it harder to discern the fine line between over-helping and trying to level the playing field. We are only discovering now that our 19-year-old (non-special-needs) son can gravitate toward bitter. And he gives up easily. We are now working on that. I hope I didn’t let him win too much as a kid.

    • Alexandra, I see it in kids more often than I’d like to. I think some of it has to do with immediate gratification. I think special needs kids (depending on their disability) know the power of working hard to do even the simplest of things.

  3. I had an experience a few years ago which taught both me and my son something: my son’s varsity baseball coach was aggressive, blunt, unsympathetic and very discriminating when it came to who “started.” The guy wanted a championship. When parents whined, he’d say things like, “He’s not as good as the other players. He could be, but he doesn’t practice, he doesn’t show up, he doesn’t give a crap. If he did, he’d be better and then he’d play. Period.” I didn’t like it, I know the parent didn’t like it, but all of a sudden the kid did start showing up and turned his attitude around. The parents still don’t like the coach, but the kid had him write one of his college letters which was glowing.

    • Susan, I had the same experience when my son got older. Thought the coach was a jerk, but he was the best coach my son ever had. Sometimes the truth hurts, especially when it’s not something kids are used to hearing but should hear.

  4. I spent a couple years as the parent liaison for my son’s coaches. Occasionally a parent would complain about the coach to me, say the guy yelled at their kid, etc. Yet my son never complained about the coach himself. I finally asked my son if what the parent was saying was true. My son’s response was “Yeah, the coach yelled at the guy. He should have. The guy goofs off all the time, talks back to coach and doesn’t take practice seriously. Coach is tough, but he doesn’t yell at those of us who respect him and put the work in.”

    The kid did quit by his senior year. Which was sad in a way because he had a lot of natural talent. But he could not handle the fact that his teammates were starting to surpass him. They were putting the work in and getting so much better and he was relying on talent alone which was not cutting it anymore. He could have been an all state runner if he had put the work in.

    • Susan G, I remember with T-ball, it wasn’t a matter of who won or lost, as kids don’t really quite grasp the whole sports team, position thing so I’ll buy that. But when I look at my kids generation there’s a sense of entitlement and I can’t help but think that comes from the everyone wins philosophy. Just my observation.

  5. I will say that I don’t mind the participation trophy up to a certain point or age. (Prekindergarten soccer teams for example) I think at first it is ok to help the kids just develop a love of the sport, game, activity etc. It just should not happen after a certain age.

  6. I think it goes far beyond the everyone wins philosophy. That was just a small part of the whole “self esteem” movement. There were a lot of parents that stopped just saying “no” to their kids in fear of damaging their kid’s self esteem. Self esteem became all about catering to the child rather than letting the child gain esteem through hard work, trial and error, and personal accomplishment. There were many parents that I ran into (as a teacher) who felt their child could do no wrong too. In previous generations, when a child got in trouble at school, the parents would question the child. That changed with this generation. All of a sudden it became that the teacher didn’t like the kid. Just read in the paper about a parent who told the police he was driving the car when they came to the house after clocking his kid driving 124 mph… in a 45 zone. Unfortunately, that happens nowadays, whereas my father would have walked me out to the police himself and made me face the consequences.

    It goes so far beyond the everyone wins thing.

    • Susan, that is so true. Kids used to be afraid of and respect authority. Not anymore. Yep, you’re right, so many variables.

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