Winning isn’t everything. There’s losing too.

Winning isn’t everything. There’s losing too.

Like many of you, I believe that entering contests is about challenging yourself, no matter the outcome. As the experts say, ‘The biggest person you compete with is yourself’.

Ha ha ha … did I just write that? Ha ha ha!

If that were true, it would be only ME in the competition, judged by ME and I’d crown ME the winner and congratulate ME. 

Imagine Usain Bolt breaking the speed record, doing his signature move in front of a mirror and saying, ‘Good job Usain! Keep this to yourself’. 

Common folks! Let’s get real here. Competing is about testing our skills against others to see if we are the best. I’m usually not. The best I mean. Sometimes I’m the worst.

Don’t get me wrong, I follow the noble strategy of ‘doing my best’. The problem is, everybody else is ALSO doing their best, and their best is often better than my bestest best! Tongue twisters aside, I usually lose, which hurts and is quite embarrassing, as anyone who’s lost at cards to their own child will tell you.

All my readers out there (who by the way are 100% winners – just reading this makes you one), may be asking WHY I lose so much. 

Well my Mom (mother hen) says, ‘Those judges don’t know anything! Don’t they know my daughter is wonderful?’  

My Dad on the other hand, (PhD, engineer, mathematician) says it’s down to statistics, in other words the detailed analysis of past events. He reminds me that most competitors lose. In fact, EVERYONE that enters a contest (except for one) loses, because there can only be one winner. From the Oscars to the Olympics to the World Ironing Championships, you need a lot of losers. 

This is something contest organizers want everyone to forget. After all, they can’t really say ‘We have A winner! The rest are a bunch of losers!’ NO. That would be very bad for PR.  So inevitably they fail to mention this small (but fundamentally true) fact and go for the ‘don’t worry be happy’ lingo. Also known as ‘Make sure those losers don’t start crying’. Again, bad for PR. 

‘Everyone is a winner!’  Really? Then why isn’t everyone receiving first prize?

‘I wouldn’t want to be a judge!’ Actually, I would LOVE to be a judge. I’d vote for myself and win.

‘It was so close!’ No it wasn’t. Otherwise it would have been a tie. 

It’s all about enjoying the experience.’ If I was seeking enjoyment, I’d be in the bar drowning myself in a martini. Or two. Or three.  

Which is where I end up after they announce, ‘… and the winner is …’ not me. Not even close.

It’s not fair! After all that hard work! Thing is, contests aren’t always fair. The competitor who spends hours and hours preparing and deserves to win doesn’t, while the one with the smug smile who always takes first prize, wins. Again.  

Which begs the question, why compete at all? Why not just cut out the ‘middle man contest’ and head straight for the bar?

Why? Because you can. There are only so many contests you can enter. For example I’d love to race against Usain Bolt but that’s unlikely to happen, not least because people say I run like a toddler, including arms in the air when I’m happy. I would also like to compete for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I haven’t done anything peaceful …

Why compete? Because as sure as death and that money the Inland Revenue will always find, if you don’t compete, you’ll never win. And sometimes you win. Yup. Even me!

Recently I won a pretty big deal speech contest. Not boasting, just celebrating success (OK, a bit of boasting). It was an incredible learning experience. I learned that winning isn’t everything, but boy does it feel good! 


Sonia Aste will be up against 7 contestants in the next heat. Her Dad says she has a 12.5% chance. Her Mom says she will win (unless the judges don’t know anything).

Latest update

Winner 2019 Toastmasters International Speech Contest UK & Ireland.

2nd place 2019 Toastmasters International Speech Contest EUROPE.

This article was published by Portfolio People.


8 Responses to Winning isn’t everything. There’s losing too.

  1. Good luck, you big loser!!

    From a fellow loser.

    Hang on – you won!

    Congrats and well done – fully deserved. Annoyingly, you didn’t even have a smug smile.

    Maybe see you at the bar.

  2. Hi Sonia,
    I enjoyed reading your ideas and your humour. I just reread the inner game books by j. Timothy Galway. The one on tennis is on audible and covers this subject. His analogy is that surfers ride the biggest wave to test their own skills. They can’t improve without the wave. In the same way tennis players at Wimbledon push each other to even higher levels of performance and they need each other to compete in order for one of them to reach the higher level. In that sense you have a duty to compete not just to yourself but to your opponent or you will bring down the standard of both of the players. In golf at the highest level you can see tiger woods pull of a shot seemingly miraculously on the final round under the pressure of competition. I think it is true that if you beat the competition you are the best but you are also competing against yourself to reach your own internal standard and that requires like minded people to push you beyond your current level by competition. According to w t gallway we get in our own way if we worry too much about the people who might lose or if our own ego about winning takes away our own focus.
    I saw you win one round of your speech contest recently and I thought you rose to the occasion brilliantly. And the audience loved the whole event. And your speech especially.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! My brother is a surfer so loved the analogy and I am going to read the book. Thank you for your kind words.

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