Hooray! It’s the holiday season and more: weeks of college football playoffs, election recounts, college admissions’ early-decision announcements, mid-term grades, Christmas bonuses, pink slips, and the list goes on.

No, this is not leading to a bunch of bah-humbug blah, blah, blah. I love the holidays, but …

Current events had me thinking: Even when people and organizations say they aren’t keeping score, yes, of course, they are! Academics, athletics, business, politics and so many other aspects of life produce winners and losers. Determined by the landslide or by the nose, triumphs and defeats may or may not make headlines, but they often produce character-defining moments in people’s lives. Whether following a win or a loss, closing remarks can be powerful—enough to impact what happens next, such as expanding the loser’s influence and eroding the winner’s fan base.

Many would benefit from contemplating some questions:

For Winners
Why not seize all the credit for the win? Every winning individual or group has someone to thank: teammates, cheerleaders, campaigners, support staff, coaches, teachers, mentors, sponsors, voters, fans, etc. Neglecting to praise them shows ingratitude and dishonesty. Sharing the glory reflects generosity and fairness, qualities that outshine any trophy.

Why not gloat in the glow of victory? People admire winners who balance confidence and humility, such as graciously accepting applause while praising the opponent’s effort in the contest. Similarly, in addition to thanking one’s supporters, figures like politicians do well to extend a hand to all constituents. Otherwise, they alienate all but a few by appearing self-centered and close-minded.

For Losers
Why not cry unfairness and discredit the results? Refusing to concede to the winner after playing the game all along, even having expressed confidence in the possibility of winning, makes the individual or team look like a child or children throwing a temper tantrum. Sore losers turn off everyone. A classy concession speech, however, can build bridges and pave the way for future opportunities.

Why not blame and badmouth others? By failing to accept one’s responsibility, whether the effort was poor or simply not spectacular enough to win, the loser often stays on a self-defeating track, prompting the team’s most talented players to leave. Self-reflection, inspiration and flexibility empower people to use their setbacks to change what they must to succeed, perhaps in a different endeavor. Blamers must believe the lies they tell themselves and others because they cannot look in the mirror and face the truth.

First-class finishers don’t always earn the highest score or go home with the day’s prize. Nevertheless, they often win in the game of life because they work towards achievements that are driven by faith, wisdom and love.

My best to you,
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at www.writelady.com.