It’s Not Just About the Final Score

It’s Not Just About the Final Score

It’s Not Just About the Final Score

Chatting with a good friend recently, we stumbled into this nugget of wisdom about how the big moments in life often come down to just a couple of small things. It’s like in sports, right? That last-second shot or a quirky bounce of the ball can make or break the game. I’m very passionate about sports, and it’s interesting how we focus on these last moments as if they’re the only thing that matters.

But here’s the thing: pinning everything on that one moment is like missing the forest for the trees. I told my friend, it’s kind of like having tunnel vision, focusing only on the end game. Sure, in sports or life, we remember the dramatic endings. (I suspect that is due to either recency or proximity bias, as those events are often, well, recent or nearby, but that diatribe would make this blog more academic, and it is intended to be more emotive.) The focus on that last event and the outcome only causes us to shortchange all the hard work and grind that leads up to those make-or-break moments.

Now to be fair, I’m (incredibly) guilty of this binary thinking too—winning is everything, and second place is the first loser, thanks to Ricky Bobby wisdom. But life’s not just about the finish line. It’s also about the race, the training, the tiny victories, and sometimes the losses we learn from.

Talking to my friend, who just aced a tough exam (props to her!), got me thinking. We all know folks who’ve gone back to school, picked up a new skill, or tackled something challenging. I instantly think of my friends who have tried to learn a new language. The courage to do any of that is massive. To put yourself intentionally out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to the possibility of failure is frightening for most. Knowing that, the simple act of taking the first step is a massive one and an act of bravery and faith; faith in yourself. The second step isn’t as scary, and before you know it, you are trotting forward, shouting instructions in Greek (Keep at it Jim!).

But instead of celebrating and reviewing those incredible steps, we often get caught up in labeling things as a win or a loss, looking for that one reason things went south when we don’t come out on top. But isn’t there value in the journey, the experience, and the growth, regardless of the outcome?

In sports talk, you hear it all the time—“if only that call went the other way,” as if that’s the whole story. But the better commentators, the ones who really get it, they talk about the whole game, the season, the buildup. It’s like in “Tin Cup” (total classic, by the way)—it’s not just about that missed putt; it’s about every shot that got you there.

The quote if you do not recall it (and the image for this blog is from that scene)

SIMMS I played in the Pro-Am with some asshole movie star shot 82 here once… how did a great ball striker like you, a `legend,’ manage to shoot an 83? TIN CUP I missed a four foot putt on the eighteen for an 82, that’s how…

So, here’s the deal: let’s try to see beyond the win-lose mentality. Let’s appreciate the hustle, the effort, and the journey, not just the scoreboard. Because at the end of the day, it’s those experiences, those lessons learned, that really count.

Author’s Note: For those of you who know me, you know how hard this lesson if for me to learn and to practice. Hearing others who I care about live through it and talking them through it and knowing I truly believe this makes it even more annoying that my own dumb ass struggles with this as often as I do. That said, I am a work in progress as we all are and I will continue to try and see beyond the binary.