I have long been pondering the eternal argument of built or born. Are people born winners, or is winning a habit that can be built? Famously we all remember The movie “Trading Places”, and its central characters Billy Ray Valentine played by Eddie Murphy, and Louis Winthorpe III played by Dan Aykroyd. The movie opens with Billy Ray a street wise hustler involved in scamming people out of money is contrasted to Louis Winthorpe II a polished, Ivy league grad from the best of pedigrees. Two wealthy business owners argue over whether success is born or can be learned if provided with the best environment. So they wager $1 to see if they can transform Billy Ray into a wall street executive, and Louis into a common criminal. Although a fictional movie, the argument is still raged today as to whether you and I are born with a fixed capacity of success, or if we can transform ourselves into a winner. In the end of the movie Billy Ray had succeeded in the corporate world and Winthorpe has descended into crime, but the idea is that we all can drastically change our position in life based upon two factors. Our environment, and how we respond to adversity.
Let’s face it, environment plays a huge part in who we are as human beings and what we become. We have been created uniquely to take input, and that input in a large part determines how we think, and how we think eventually becomes how we act. Actions good or bad, reap results, and bad thoughts overtime will manifest in our lives as bad results. Before you go blaming your current results on your upbringing, the other part of our human capabilities lies in our response to stimulus and information. We are all victims of some messy situations growing up, and we all have been a part of a few dysfunctional relationships. Everyone of us has been given bad advice from people that meant well, and everything has not turned up roses. But I submit that if we are honest, we conscientiously chose most of the dead ends in our lives. Oh I know and understand that bad people do bad things, and people lie, cheat and steal, but in the end we still make choices.
So what does all of this mean? First of all, none of us are born losers! We are all born winners, that let bad information, and bad environments teach us losing lessons. For example, I was raised to believe that I could achieve anything. I never remember my mother placing a limit on what I could achieve. As I grew up I began to listen to the news talk about poverty, and race, and inequality, and that losing mentality began to teach me losing lessons. In high school I started to slip into those beliefs, and as a basketball player, I ran into a situation where I felt the coach was being a racist. Even though I made the team, and there were other black players on the team, I knew that playing time and other preferential treatment was being given to certain players. I let my environment dictate my thoughts, and my thoughts became my actions. Bad attitude, lack of effort, and an overall lack of concerns gripped me at every practice. Soon the coach noticed and challenged my lack of effort, and I responded by telling him what was on my mind and walking out of practice. The next day I figured I would show him by neatly folding my uniform in my equipment bag and marching into his office to quit. I will never forget the look on his face. It was a look of pure victory! I will also never forget that at that very moment I had become a loser. That felling haunted me my entire junior year, and in my senior year I decided to stop losing. I got in the best shape of my life, I lived and breathed basketball all summer. I pushed myself beyond all that I believed that I could do. But here was the dilemma, same school, same political games, same arrogant coach. My friends(environment) provided me with the reasons why he would never let me on the team because I had quit on him, so I ran harder. They told me how unfair it was, so I lifted more weights. I remembered that I was a winner, and I stopped listening to losing lessons. So every tryout practice, my main goal was to destroy every player on the court. The coach would practice sometimes, and I would switch men to guard him. I pushed myself so hard that he could not cut me, he had to make me a starter and the captain of the team. You and I can do the same thing in this environment. Regardless of the environment, regardless of the inputs, I chose to win, and you can too. If you only think, believe and act like a winner. We can win on TEAM, if we only believe we can.
I believe that God has blessed us all with the genius of a winner, and do not your past environment drown your genius. Respond like a winner, and ignore losing lessons. And above all… Never Quit, for if you quit ………you lose.