We’ve all reached that point in our lives when we thought that ‘winning at all costs is more important than anything’. Whether it was winning over the childhood sweetheart, getting a better job, traveling to a certain place or, on a more darker note, overcoming the loss or battling with a disease – the punchline is that most of us can agree that we’ve all felt that need to win.
Now, we’re here to talk about why surviving is more important than winning, and how the ideology of winning at all cost can actually correlate to your actual survival.
Why Surviving Is More Important Than Winning
1. Live to fight another day
Let’s start off with the most obvious reason – live to fight another day. Basically, there are two ways to interpret this, so let’s fracture it down.
First, if we’re talking about actual survival, this reason’s punchline is beyond obvious. What if you win and not survive – will you even know you won?
For example, let’s talk about a not-so-convenient scenario where you’re out there in the wilderness hunting for game and a huge bear suddenly pops up from nowhere. Would you fight it for the sake of winning, or do you find it shameful to turn tail and run up a tree? In this particular scenario, there’s no grace or fame in winning, but neither is there any shame in retreating.
Secondly, live to fight another day can be interpreted as winning is not the single most important thing. There are times when we’re simply not ready to tackle with the challenges we’ve set on to conquer – whether it’s not having enough skills, money, or experience, simply diving in headfirst usually gets us nowhere.
For this example let’s use a different scenario. Do you think it would be rational or smart to hop into a ring with a professional boxer after having a couple of boxing lessons? That’s precisely how it would feel to start investing a lot of money after a couple of economy courses, or proposing to the girl (you deem is of your dreams) after a couple of months of being in a relationship.
Basically, what’s important here is that winning something doesn’t necessarily mean victory by a long shot.
2. Survival instinct and the greed for victory
Basically, every human being has a survival instinct, and it’s only common knowledge that it’s one of the strongest drives, one of the strongest motivators of sorts. However, parallel to that we also have a tendency to aspire more, to win in this or that.
Be it a sports competition, for example, a wrestling match or a football game, our greed for victory can sometimes propel us into harm’s way. Imagine as such a wrestling match where the main character completely neglects empathy, for instance, and goes a little overboard – he (or she) is then driven by this greed to be victorious, while on the other hand, the other side is faced with a survival instinct – defending.
What would be more important to you then? To overcome your opponent even if that means inflicting harm if that would ensure your victory, or to simply live and let live? Survival has other aspects, and one of it is a social one.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have a football game where a player, wishing to win at all costs, tackles down his (or her) opponent at high speeds. Would that victory be of any meaning in such a scenario – would you survive the accusations and judgment of any and all who’ve seen it?
The social aspect of survival means that we must never let our greed for victory be the one and only thing that matters.
3. Winning at all costs – can it be justified and when?
Of course, there are certain scenarios where winning at all costs could be justified, even beyond surviving. A perfect example would present soldiers defending their country in times of all-out war. Just to be clear, we’re specifically speaking about defending one’s soil, it doesn’t apply in wars of aggression.
Namely, soldiers who are fulfilling their duties by fighting such a war can and should focus on winning at all costs. There’s just too much at stake – there are people at home whose lives are in danger, who can’t defend themselves.
In such a case, winning beats surviving. If a soldier is to die in the line of duty with the result being hundreds, if not thousands of lives saved, of course that there’s no way of putting up an argument where survival is more important. However, no one ever could and should advocate putting your life at risk, so take this example at face value.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have aggressor wars. In this scenario, winning is not something that could neither be perceived as important, let alone justified. If greed is the main drive behind one’s intentions, if murder and pillaging is in the mind, of course, in most cases you don’t even have a say, in such a scenario surviving is more important.
4. What can losing actually teach us
If you ask anybody who’s won pretty much at anything – Olympics, lottery, a heart of the loved one – you’ll notice a pattern. Everyone who’s won has previously lost numerous times. Victors and winners aren’t born that way – it’s preservation and persistence that usually result in victory.
Be tedious with what you do, and survival won’t even be an issue. Learn how to accept defeat and learn from it, and winning won’t even matter as you’ll get accustomed to it. That does not, however, mean that you should focus on losing – it’s quite the opposite.
Don’t beat yourself down if you happen to lose, don’t take it personally unless you really can’t help it. The bottom line is that victories surely are rewarding, but defeats are better teachers. Remember the aeons-old proverb – give a man a fish, he won’t be hungry for the day, teach him how to fish, he won’t be hungry ever again. Learn how to lose before you can actually get to the part where winning is important. For more you can check our other posts in scopehut.