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The Need to Win

Yesterday, I was writing and getting ready for class this morning. I pulled The Promise of Paradox by Parker Palmer off the shelf and looked for a reference. When I opened the book, it was to the page with this poem on it. When I focus on the need to win, as Chuang Tzu suggested, I am drained of power and divided against myself. The way to victory is to let go of the chase for victory and the avoidance of defeat.

We talked about the binary world we live in. Winning and losing are part of this binary. They sit at extremes and point in opposite directions. When I let go of and let myself enter the between space, I find my way better.

Take care and enjoy Sabbath.

When an archer is shooting for nothing

He has all the skill.

If he shoots for a brass buckle

He is already nervous.

If he shoots for a prize of gold

He goes blind

Or sees two targets—

He is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed. But the prize

Divides him. He cares.

He thinks more of winning

Than of shooting—

And the need to win

Drains him of power.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

15 responses »

  1. Kaufman's Kavalkade

    It’s muscle memory, instinct, training, repetition. And yes, you can get in your own way by overthinking, haha.

    On the other hand, if you turn off completely you might not get it back. Balance.

  2. This one is going up on my wall TODAY!!! I try to practice this in my life and nearly always fail. I do need constant reminder because not to aim for a specific outcome brings so much peace. Thank you Ivon.

  3. Heraclitus would say that two opposites are one and the same, both leading to unhealthy extremes. Aristotle talks about the Golden Mean, the middle way between two extremes.

  4. We become better or probably best when we do things just for the love of it. When our drives are just love and passion other than prize or reward. Thanks for sharing, I learn a lot.

  5. Very nice post. Interesting.

  6. the need to win works as a great motivator.

  7. the need to win

    Drains him of power………….stress management – beautifully explained
    with regards

  8. Reblogged this on aksharaalu – Best Collections and commented:
    stress management – beautifully explained


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