Third Place Sucks
Tom Hogue April 2017
I know that sounds a little harsh to read the first time through - but it really does. Third place sucks.
If you've participated in any kind of sporting event you know what it's like to go for the gold. Sporting competition follows extensive amounts of training, commitment, sweat, and sometimes even blood and bruises. At the end of that hard fought sporting event, you receive your just rewards. If you're on a team then sometimes you may not get that first place award - due to other teammate's performances. That's just a fact, not a blame game.
However, if you compete in a individual sport such as wrestling, boxing, Karate, or even golf, billiards, or tennis, there's really no one else to blame but yourself. It's at those times when you're standing on the pedestal, looking up at the first place competitor, that you're left with some very mixed emotions. Or at least I am.
Some people will be very happy and content with that third place or second place award. That may be fine for them, or their first time winning an award. Personally, I have a hard time being happy with that recognition, simply because I expect so much more from myself. Don't get me wrong, it's not anger at or jealousy of the first place finisher at all. It's a disappointment I'm feeling in myself for having not performed better.
I don't complain about the referees for the points they may have missed. I don't claim that they were paid off by the competitors. I'm simply upset that I did not perform better and leave them no other choice but to award me first place. As a matter of fact, I've actually gotten to the point where even first place isn't quite good enough. I now fully expect myself to also win the grand champion trophy for fighting, weapons or katas in the combined black belt division.
I'm not saying everyone can have that same mindset, but I sure do. It's even carried over into business as I strive for first place in excellence of quality delivered to our clients. There's nothing I do where I will stop at 90% completion and smile with contentment. It's just not in me.
That's why I continue to surround myself with like-minded individuals at Gibraltar, because this company is a team and so all of us must have that same mindset. The mindset that third place sucks, and if we hard work together we will win first.
So remember, true champions are not content long term with second best or third place. If you see someone standing there, smiling broadly with a third-place trophy in his hand, and he's completely thrilled with that accomplishment, then you'll see him in that same spot again, but probably not much higher on the pedestal.
It's the man who politely smiles for the picture with his third place trophy, who is not genuinely content with third, that will climb that pedestal and receive the first place eventually. For the champion of heart - third place represents falling just short of the ultimate accomplishment - and just simply sucks.