It’s just as ridiculous to believe a championship trophy makes anyone think, feel, do, or be anything as it is to believe that a participation trophy makes anyone think, feel, do, or be anything in particular. Trophies have no magical powers. We think, feel, and act in certain ways based on how we think about trophies.
You might be thinking, “But don’t trophies make people feel good?” No, they don’t. A trophy does not have that power. In fact, studies have shown that after winning a trophy and the initial positive emotions, many winners become believed themselves to be more stressed and pressured than before winning. Trophies aren’t necessary for feeling fantastic and feeling fantastic isn’t necessary for being well, performing excellently, or doing good for oneself or the world.
And you might be thinking, “But trophies indicate who is the best, and isn’t that a good thing?” Actually, trophies only indicate who was the best in a past moment. To me, I sometimes believe that’s a cool thing. I’m a fan of sports and other competition because I think it’s cool people strive to get better, and I’m happy to have a few rings and trophies in storage somewhere. But I wouldn’t expect anybody to share my opinion or think of me any certain way because I earned a trophy (Note: earned is my personal opinion). Competition isn’t necessarily the best thing for all of life’s endeavors. In fact, it can be detrimental in important areas of life.
I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t desire a trophy. In fact, if you do desire a trophy, good for you. I would love to help you earn the trophy. I would love to see if I can help point in a certain direction that helps you love every moment of the process. But the one thing you won’t hear from me is how magical and transformative winning the trophy will be for you. I want you to love the moments and the process. That’s how you will become your best and give yourself the best chance of winning the trophy.
We should do things because we love doing them or because others benefit tangibly or spiritually by our efforts and examples. We should take action because it’s what we are built for. Trophies aren’t necessary for taking action or being motivated, and in fact, sometimes the thought of a trophy is detrimental to action and motivation.
Striving for a trophy or winning a trophy doesn’t make you a better person than someone who doesn’t strive for or win a trophy, and it doesn’t mean your success or their failure will translate to other areas of life. However, the idea that trophies have magical transformative powers can be accompanied by other magical thinking that won’t do you much good and probably also leads you to putting people in boxes labeled Winners and Losers. Maybe that’s your thing, but for me, I want to work with the Losers as much as the Winners, sometimes more. They are just labels, like the labels we slap on metal and plastic. There is nothing magical about them.
Create your own magic. It’s the only kind that exists.