Not Winning? Then Change The Rules!

red mini golf

“What’s the score? What’s the score?” I pestered. You see, we were heading into the final hole of the miniature golf game, and I needed to know what score I was shooting for in order to win. (Yes, even at seven, I was fiercely competitive.)

I was also, fiercely out of my league. Playing with my brother who was 13 and several other of his friends, I was the youngest in the group by several years and, predictably, was being out played by my senior golfers.

Smirking, my brother announced the scores. Sure enough: mine was the highest.

“Yes!!!!” I exclaimed. “I am leading!”

“You are losing, you idiot,” he replied, rolling his eyes. “In golf it’s the lowest score that wins.”

Without missing a beat I shrugged, “That’s if you are playing by your rules. “I am playing by my rules. And by my rules I am winning.”

This story was a family favorite.

My brother used it as an illustration of my stupidity and my cheating ways.

My father used it to explain my tenacity (which typically he referred to as my “pig-headedness,” I simply chose to translate it to mean tenacity).

And my mother told it as evidence of my cleverness and creativity.

My guess is that each of them was a little right. Yet, at the same time, I am in awe of the wisdom of seven-year old me: I am playing by my rules. And by my rules, I am winning.

Think about it: How often do we let other people set the rules for us? How often do we allow these rules define whether or not we are winning?

For example, in youth sports winning can be defined as the most victories, the most state titles or the most scholarships awarded. In education, it can be defined as the most Ivy League placements, the most National Merit Scholars or the most “successful” (read: wealthy) graduates. In parenting, it can be defined as having raised that state champion, who went onto the Ivy League and is now, well, successful.

On the other hand, what if winning was defined differently? What if in youth sports it was about the number of kids who became more fit, more self-confident or who had fun? What if in education it was defined as raising life long learners, kids willing to take a challenge or students who weren’t afraid to ask hard questions or even who were willing to fail? What if in parenting it is about raising psychologically whole kids, the kind of people who we would all be thrilled to have as our neighbors or simply excellent parents to our future grandchildren?

Could these things also be “success”? Of course they could. And they are. It just depends on how we define success, of course.

We get to define our own successes. Yes, even if that means changing our own rules in the middle of the game.

It’s called adapting.

We set out to achieve a certain goal. Things don’t go quite the way we expect. We have the choice of calling it a disaster or finding the silver lining, taking the life lesson and reframing it while moving on.

It’s called failing forward.

We can choose to be wedded to a specific outcome and when we don’t receive it, we can sit in defeat. Or we can accept the result and apply it in a way that makes us better moving forward.

It’s called grit.

So take a page out of seven year-old Annie’s playbook: rewrite the rules. <div class=”content-box-blue” Rewrite the rule to make them YOUR rules. Rewrite the rules so you are the winner. <a href=”Tweet: Rewrite the rule to make them YOUR rules. Rewrite the rules so you are the winner. “>Click to Tweet