My grandson recently participated in his state wrestling championship. He was #1 in his weight class last year. He was District Champion in his weight class this year. He was #1 seed for the state championship this year. But he lost the championship in the title match, making him #2 in the state of New Mexico for his high school group and weight class. Number 2. Not number 1. Number 2. And he was really disappointed in himself. But if you think about it, he is number 2! He is just one person away from being the best in the state! And he is better than a whole bunch of other people.
Honestly, coming in number 2 in a field of wrestlers in the entire state of New Mexico for his weight class and high school group is amazing. But we have put so much emphasis on winning that we all think that being number 2 is not good enough. And that is really disappointing. Number 2 is not the same as a participation trophy–it is number 2!
There is only one number 1. And there is only one number 2. While it is always preferable to win when you’re been spending so much time preparing and working and psyching yourself up to win, there is no shame in coming in number 2. You’ve still done better than all of the rest of the people in your group–except one. One person managed to do some piece of what you were doing just a little bit better, knew a little bit more, or got just a little bit luckier than you did.
I have been a “runner up” many times in this lifetime. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. Did I start judging myself with all the things I could have done better? You bet. Did I think about pouting in the corner and never participating again? Yes, I did. But I was number 2 and eventually remembered that even being eligible for number 1 was pretty damn special and was something I should be proud of.
So we should all try our best, work really hard to be the best we can be, strive to be number 1, and be happy with number 2. Number 2 is still a hell of a lot better than being number 45 and it usually takes the focus and expectation off of you while you’re working hard to be number 1 the next time. So I’m ridiculously proud of Jasper for being #2 and I know it will be additional motivation to him to work even harder to go through the process again to be number 1 next year . . . or number 2 . . . or wherever his passion and drive leads him. He’s still better than so many others and he’s the best HE can be. And that’s what’s really important.