Every year, when baseball season comes around, I’m very happy. I’m happy because I know my Yankees could win 90 to 100 games out of the 162 game season, and maybe even win the 11 post season games necessary to win the World Series.
As a matter of fact, famed Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter would say he did not consider the season a success unless they won the World Series. Wow! That’s pressure.
But they could handle that. Winning 27 World Championships can make you a believer. But what if you don’t win the Series? I know in my own life, that does not have to define me. It can’t.
Joan talks about what it’s like to define success…you don’t always have to be number one to be a winner.
Joan: Not long ago, I had the opportunity to engage in conversation with astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, who is best known for the Apollo 11 space mission, the first spaceflight that landed humans on the moon. Neil Armstrong was the first to step on the lunar surface and Buzz followed within minutes.
In our discussion, Buzz told me that after that flight, he was angry, disappointed, depressed, and frustrated at being labeled number two. It drove him crazy whenever he was introduced as the second man to walk on the moon. This went on for years.
Q. Did that strike you as strange? Because after all, he was an accomplished man.
Joan: Well, that’s the thing. As I listened to him speak, in my mind, I heard the words, “You walked on the moon … you walked on the moon … you walked on the moon!”
Q. No doubt he’s a highly accomplished man. What’s so bad about a few seconds later when he did the same thing as Neil Armstrong?
Joan: I did wonder why being number two made such a difference to a man who achieved something that just about every human, minus a very select few, can only imagine.
Q. Well, then, what’s wrong with wanting to win, striving to be number one?
Joan: I understand the importance of history and that in some situations it’s fun to win and often that place comes with rewards not offered to others. But is being number one the only thing in life? Does nothing else count? Is it so important that we are willing to risk our self-esteem, fulfillment, and ability to move forward?
Have we lost sight of our journey and accomplishments? Can we can only see the prize and nothing else matters? And, when we don’t achieve the gold, are we a failure?
Q. I tend to like the way Yankees view their season. If you don’t win it all, what are you doing? If you are at the top of your game, no matter what it is, shouldn’t you be striving to ‘win it all’?
Joan: Unfortunately, I believe that many people look to that prize and when they aren’t the “best”, whatever that means, they label themselves a “failure”. And that fear of “failing” often keeps them stuck in place.
Q. So what can we do? Afterall, first place is for one, then there’s the rest of us.
Joan: It’s time we start paying attention to the journey and the accomplishments that we make along the way. Yes, we should have ambition and goals, and we must always do our best, but if your best doesn’t make you number one, take a realistic look at all that you have achieved and give yourself a pat on the back.
Would you ever consider Buzz Aldrin a failure?
Buzz admitted that as he got older and learned a thing or two about life, he finally recognized the magnitude of what he achieved and the role he played in making it happen. Neil may have been number one, but he needed number two to get him there.
So, the next time you’re being hard on yourself, remember Buzz and that sometimes number two ain’t such a bad place to be.