Can you tell the difference between success and victory?

This is a hard question which I have had in my thoughts for a very long time. However, a 10 year old boy gave me the answer. Here is how…

Last weekend one of my friends asked me to accompany him and his children to a bike race. I decided to take a break and spend the day with them to clean up my mind. The kids were racing in groups divided by age, and each group would cover different distances. I was truly enjoying seeing all of these young kids competing fiercely against each other. Obviously it was a big day for many of them.

Around 13.30h the race of children between 10 and 12 years was about to start. This race consisted of 4 laps of 1 km each and about 30 children took part. Just before the start of the race a light rain started to fall, which already discouraged some of the children, who decided not to take part.

After the first lap there was a group of 5 very fast bikers leading the race, followed by the main group, and way behind them an overweight boy riding a very old fashioned bike with no proper clothes for the weather.

At the middle of the second lap the light rain turned into a very heavy rain and more children decided to leave the race. At the end of the third lap half of the children had abandoned the race. However, the overweight boy was still racing with all of his clothes soaked and evident signs of suffering. When the leading group crossed the finish line this boy had still about one painful kilometer ahead, and the rain was heavier than ever.

The boy crossed the finish line alone 3 minutes after the race was over. He was totally exhausted, but something very amazing happened. When crossing the finish line, he raised his arms and you could tell that he was totally happy! People sitting next to me were laughing at the boy and someone said “this boy thinks he is the winner of the race.”

I understood what he was celebrating. The boy was not celebrating the victory. He was celebrating that he was able to finish.

In many ways startup founders are very much like the boy of the story. There is a common belief that startup founders are something like superstars. Like they are highly intelligent, with some kind of gift and that is the reason why they are successful. I just cannot disagree more. I think the main reason why startup founders are successful is because they do not quit.

The boy of the story taught me that in order to finish the race you need to be obstinate and determined to finish. This should be the ultimate goal of all entrepreneurs, which to me means being successful. Some people might argue that the boy didn’t really win. However, in my opinion, giving all is not so far from victory. Doing the best of which you are capable of is much more than most people will ever achieve in their lives.

We do not know if we will actually make it. What we can be sure of is that we will give everything we have. This is what really matters and what will define ourselves as winners.

Here’s my question for you: Can you be successful without winning?

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