You may not have seen it, but earlier this month Spring Arbor University (Michigan) won the NAIA Division II men’s basketball National Championship, its first in school history. I was struck by one of the comments made in the postgame press conference by Cougars head coach Ryan Cottingham. In describing his program’s culture, he said, “Winning is our goal, but it’s not our purpose.” That simple quote has resonated with me ever since, and I’m sharing it today in hopes it might resonate with you, too, as you consider the important role you play in raising and developing champion young people of your own.
A goal is defined simply as “an aim or a desired result,” and regardless of what any of us are doing today or where, winning is a great goal to have. Why? Because winning is important. Sports, like life, is competitive. There are winners and there are losers. This is an important lesson for your child to learn and understand, especially if they’re planning to do anything big and important in this challenging world.
Wherever responsibility or opportunity exists in life, competition exists, too. It might involve the challenge of competing against someone or something else. More often and more importantly, it’s the challenge we all face – our kids included – against ourselves and our own potential. One important part of our responsibility as parents, coaches, and leaders is to help cultivate in our kids the mindset and attitude of a competitor. To help them succeed in the most important areas of life. And to help them achieve that goal we’ve set before them: to win.
Winning is a great goal, but for champions like Spring Arbor’s Ryan Cottingham, and hopefully for each one of us as parents and coaches today, winning is not the purpose. As champions ourselves, we need to see clearly that our purpose must be different than our goal; it must be bigger. Our purpose is more than an aim or a desire, it’s the reason we’re here, doing this important work. It’s our motive. It’s our why. For champion parents and coaches, winning is our goal, but it’s not our purpose. Developing winners is our purpose.