Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. —Vince Lombardi
If you want to find Truth you must rid yourself of the desire for victory. —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Rebbe Nachman teaches that the urge to be victorious is a trait that cannot co-exist with truth. He says that a person who yearns to understand and experience truth, must discard her desire for winning.
But competition is what drives this world (and the economy, nations, and many individuals.) Besting others, at sport, politics or war, seems to be what this grand race called life is all about. Isn’t it?
If you’ve ever longed to win you’ve bought into the “immortal champion” myth. That is, if you win, you’ll be a happy victor – forever.
But how happy are we really when we discover that the thrill of victory is fleeting? The smiling response to a wall full of trophies isn’t so hot compared to the radical happiness of the triumphal moment. A victorious memory offers even a more anemic emotion. Winning fades. It ends. And so do champions.
There Is Eternal Victory
In Hebrew, the word for victory, netzach, also means eternal. True victory is eternal and can only exist when Truth is at its core. Snagging that Pulitzer or blue ribbon away from your arch rival, winning a debate, or acing a game of tennis are not Truths, but mere truth-smithereens, leftovers from the shattering of the vessels of Creation.
It’s easy to kid ourselves that winning is everything or even the only thing, but our souls know better. When we let go of our urge to win, we let go of a lot of falsehoods, too.
We emerge truthfully victorious.
1. You are listening to your lunch companion’s argument. She posted the same thing on Facebook just that morning. But she is wrong. Totally, utterly wrong. And you are just the person to tell her.
But sometimes, even most of the time, getting along with someone, avoiding a fight, is of a higher order of truth than proving them wrong. Even when you’re right. So, you hear her out, silently agree to disagree, and talk about something else.
2. You have heavily invested time in a project. Your colleague, who doesn’t have your expertise, wants to present it at the meeting her way. You explain, gently, that experience shows there is one right way to do this. She balks. You say, “You know what? Let’s try it your way. Maybe it could work.”
You lose the deal. You believe it was largely because of her presentation style. You put your arm around her and say, “You know, don’t feel like this is all your doing. There are probably a few reasons we didn’t pull that off.”
You attain an eternal victory, a victory of your better nature.
3. You and your fill-in-the-blank (spouse, mother, sister) are arguing. You are so hurt and angry that you barely remember who you are. Instead of hammering out the “truth” you grab for the “Truth.”
You give in a bit for the sake of peace and are surprised to realize that you aren’t a coward, you aren’t an appeaser; instead you are a soul who wants to connect to a slice of eternal victory and is willing to do it even if it costs a bit of your pride.
But there’s more.
Not making your life about pursuing victory and victory’s extrinsic reward, offers you a kind of serenity that a thousand other wins can never give you. Only Truth can bring us to Peace.
And Peace unlocks the Geulah.