Grades 6-8, High School

Losers & Winners & Everyday People? Oh, my!

1st-place-award-155595_1280Competitive sports are designed to underscore the difference between winners and losers. Players with the best scores or times earn the objective title of ‘winner.’ Logically, this means other competitors are losers. This may seem harsh, but it is accurate. It’s ‘real life true, too.’ The Cleveland Indians had a great season and solid World Series run. But the Chicago Cubs won!

Outside of sports, however, calling everyday people ‘losers’ is much less valid and often cruel. Logically speaking, it makes no sense to use the term ‘loser’ when talking about everyday people.key-214453_1280 The very phrase ‘everyday people’ is a key part of this puzzle. After all, every clearly successful person started out as an everyday Jane or Joe.

Gangly teens with acne, drug runners, distracted students, and isolated geeks don’t get a lot of ‘Likes’ in daily life. But when an emerging talent gets noticed in any sort of person – BAM! – peers, experts, or at some point maybe the public celebrates being in the presence of a ‘winner.’

So where IS that line between Nobody-ville and winner status? What’s the tipping point to more winner/don’t call me a loser? Can you measure when, where or how an everyday person crosses the threshold into all-the-superlatives status? Nope.

Sure, sure some ‘winning’ (outside of sport) comes from viral clicks and crowdsourced fame. Social media hits do catapult a mind-numbing array of unproven people and ideas to the world stage.motivation-721821_1920

But think about it. Are the everyday people who gain the ‘winner’ label all that different from their earlier selves? back when they were, ahem, ‘losers?’

They have learned a thing or two. They are applying themselves in unique or impressive ways. They may even be surrounded by fancier trappings. But their inner self is the same as it was on Day 1 of living.

Stop. Did you get that?

Winning happens when a person makes the best of what’s already inside.

This is NOT the same as ‘everyone’s a winner, no matter what.’ This is, ‘build up from within.’

And the process is different for everyone, too. As in, ‘Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.’ Setting goals, making the most of circumstances, and sometimes a bit of luck are all factors. Yet nothing happens without the unique seed, the kernel of potential nestled deep inside every single everyday person.

Translation:  Winners are everyday people who have figured out how to bloom where they’ve been planted. Or transplanted. Now some folks will win/bloom in small arenas – a classroom, at the kitchen table, or with just one friend. Others will shine for a bigger audience – a large company, in public service, or yes, in a whirlwind of general media fame.

By the way, do you know what to call those everyday people with weaker roots or unfurled leaves?
Late bloomers. Do your best to cultivate them.


  1. Consider these common, some might say boring, items. Now think of two uses for each one to show that even the most basic item can be a real winner:
    • paper clip
    • plastic bag
    • apple
    • shoelace
    • other (you choose)
  2. Consider the word “STEGANOGRAPHY.” It’s the practice of hiding a secret message inside another non-secret message. So, maybe winning happens when an observer does a little reverse steganography to reveal or activate the valuable hidden message inside another person.
    • Think of a book, movie or TV show plot where reverse steganography could show a character is actually, unexpectedly a ‘winner.’ Explain what happened (in 5 sentences or less). Then explain what could have happened differently in this person’s life (or just this story) to avoid the pall of being considered a ‘loser.’
    • What secret message is inside YOU that you wish peers, parents or other people could see right away? Design a self-portrait (any medium) that looks like ‘regular, everyday you,’ yet also contains a hidden message (in words, images or both) about what you wish others knew. Feeling brave? Explain your self-portrait to somebody.
  3. This post mentions the beginning of a few rags-to-riches, nobody-to-super-body stories. Given a bit more info about these real people, identify:
    • the gangly teen with acne who becomes a leggy cover model;
    • an isolated geek who revolutionizes the world with technology;
    • the former drug runner who runs the hip hop world; and
    • a genius who was late to start talking explains relativity to the world.
    • Write another rags-to-riches tag line about somebody you consider to be a winner.
  4. Consider this statement and explain how it supports the theme that calling everyday people ‘losers’ makes no sense.

Everyone’s got a unique way to the waterfall, but we’re all drinking. We’re all drinking.           ~Vince Vaughn on Jimmy Fallon (Nov 2, 2016)
@ ~4:40

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