What Motivates You – Do You Love to Win or Hate to Lose?

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

By Courtney Mykkanen, Swimming World College Intern.

The most successful swimmers are driven by something more than just their passion for the sport. The thrill of getting your hand to the wall first encompasses so much more than the place number illuminated next to your lane on the scoreboard. The simple question of “Do you love to win or hate to lose?” can tell a lot about a swimmer’s mindset and competitive spirit.

Why We Love to Win

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Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

We aim to be the best in our sport and put everything on the line in order to win. The feeling of winning can be so rewarding, knowing that years of hard training and sacrifices are finally paying off. The feeling of earning the individual or team title of being the “winner” or receiving a gold medal or trophy. The proud feeling of achieving your goals and accomplishing success. Hearing your teammates, family, and fans cheering for you and expressing their excitement because they are so proud.

After experiencing all these powerful feelings and emotions of winning, what comes next? How do you move forward, and how might the risks of losing in the future be handled?

The celebrations and emotions that come with winning are memories that will last forever. Moving forward, one might develop a stronger fear around losing. Sometimes, this results in playing it safe to avoid losing or failure; this can prevent someone from reaching their fullest potential. The feeling of winning cannot be accomplished if you don’t lay everything on the line and see what happens – you might even surprise yourself.

Why We Hate to Lose

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

The mindset of hating to lose can be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than the feeling of loving to win. Losing creates feelings of defeat, disappointment, and letting people down. The feeling of letting down your team, coach and family can be one of the worst feelings ever. However, it doesn’t have to be.

Losing isn’t a bad thing as long as it keeps you motivated. Losing is supposed to motivate you to work harder, push yourself, and set challenging goals. Losing can be used as a tool to learn what worked and what went wrong in order to strategize changes for the future. Viewing a loss as a learning experience rather than as a failure can make a huge difference for future success.

Which mindset is better?

There is no right answer – you can’t win at everything. It’s life; there are winners and there are losers, and that is never going to change. For some, it can take years of losses and disappointments in order to accomplish their goals. We must embrace failure and the challenges presented to us, as these setbacks are all part of the process leading to a win. Those losses are what make the win possible.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Author: Courtney Mykkanen

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Courtney Mykkanen is a swimmer and current student-athlete at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a declared Media Studies student and expects to graduate in spring 2020.

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