A few weeks ago I returned from Athens, I was invited to give a lecture for the leadership forum of “Haifa Chemicals”, their global division. This is a huge company that consists of 17 subsidiaries. The CEO of the company, Mr. Moti Levin, has kindly asked me to have a session with the management ,during this time while the company is about to go through changes.
When I landed in Athens, I met 33 top executives from 17 different countries, all of them were assembled to present/showcase their vision of the company for the next five years.
Right after the landing, we went out to soak up some greek star-dust, and I’m not referring to the famous singer Nikos Vertis, but rather visiting one of the most famous, mythological and iconic sites of ancient Greece – the Acropolis.
Greek history is fascinating, full of stories about the gods, about wars, men, women, love, hate, victories and losses – just like watching a good show on Netflix. The stories about the Acropolis are like the “House of Cards” of greek mythology. (or any other show that keeps you up at night).
On top of mount Acropolis is the Parthenon, the greek temple, which is considered to be the most famous structure of ancient Greece, and also one of the most famous buildings in the world. It’s amazing to see the importance of building the right infrastructure. Despite the fact the Parthenon faced many hits/attacks, it stands firm and still remains solid and strong.
But wait a minute, this is not a travel post. There is something very powerful that grabbed my attention, which is strongly related to your success.
What is that, what grabbed my attention?
Amongst all the stories I heard was the story about the goddess of victory – nike. If the name sounds familiar it’s because the famous shoe company “Nike” got its name from the goddess of victory herself.
Here’s an interesting story about nike,
At the entrance of the Acropolis, next to the Parthenon, there is a mini-temple, it looks like a private room, and this room has a significant part in greek history.
You probably know from your history lessons in school (if you didn’t cut class), that in ancient times, greek warfare had a very important role in the lives of greek people. To such an extent that times of peace were considered to be (actually) the exception, rather than times of war. It’s sad but true.
The greeks were very preoccupied with winning and losing because they participated in so many wars. Their challenge was how to recover (quickly) from defeats and on the other hand, how to create a series of victories and not become complacent during that time of success.
That’s why the greek created the statue of nike, a statue that had wings. The reason for that is to help the warriors remember that victory is not forever, it comes and goes. When we are victorious, we need to remember that we cannot really hold on to the victory, and also when we’re defeated/beaten, (it’s important to remember) that the next victory is always around the corner/the opportunity for victory lies ahead.
That’s why the wings that were designed to be across the walls are the sign of victory, because victory comes and goes.
Every time they wanted to talk about victory as an idea/convey the idea, they built a statue.
Because people in Greece believed that winning is not forever, which means that if you win today, it does not mean you will win tomorrow. It was important for them to teach this lesson to the next generation, and so they taught their children not to be arrogant.
Victory is not something we can hold on to, if we have won today – this victory has wings, we cannot hold on to it, all we can really do is to try and regain the victory in a different way the next day.
The wings of nike were designed to be displayed along the walls, they are a sign of victory. It comes and goes , nike is more of an idea than a statue we can have in our life.
Basically all this means that “victory has wings”, (in other words) when we win or do well, we can’t really hold on to the victory after we have achieved it. All we can really do is copy the performance that brought us the victory, and that performance is in our control.
The story of nike reminded me of the famous story about king Solomon’s ring.
For those who don’t know the story, it goes like that:
Once upon a time king Solomon, who was considered to be very smart and wise, wanted to challenge his loyal servant Benaya, and test his integrity and wisdom.
The honorable king invited his servant and demanded him to perform a task, knowing very well that the task cannot be done.
King solomon told his servant: “we are upon the holiday of sukkot, during the holiday, I would like to have a magic ring, this ring can make anyone who is sad to become instantly happy, and anyone who is happy to become instantly sad.
The loyal servant went out in search of the mysterious ring. For months he searched, but after visiting many jewellers in the area, he had no magic ring in his possession. A couple of months passed, Benaya had reached the far border of the kingdom, but still didn’t find anyone who had heard about such a magical ring.
Benaya, the loyal servant became frustrated and even depressed. It almost took over him, up until one day, just before the holiday of sukkot, when he arrived at a small workshop of a poor jeweller in a remote little town.
The servant had nothing to lose at that time, so he asked the old jeweller: “tell me sir, have you ever heard of a magic ring that can make someone who is suffering to be happy, and someone who is happy to be suffering?”. The old jeweller thought about it for a moment, turned around and took out a small copper ring from one of his drawers. Just before giving the ring to Benaya, the old jeweller engraved something on it.
Benaya, who after all those months had lost his hope, took one look at the engraving/writing, this made his eyes to light up. He thanked the jeweller, paid him a sack of gold coins and happily rushed back to king Solomon’s castle.
When the servant finally arrived to king’s Solomon palace, the king was happy, he didn’t believe that his servant would actually return with such a ring. The servant gave his master the ring, the wise king took one look at the ring and immediately his smile was gone. All the people of the courtyard were curious to see what was written on the magical ring, and then they finally looked at it, and saw this simple phrase: “Despite everything, this too shall pass”.
This simple phrase has an important truth in it that we need to cherish in our hearts – even if we think that everything is working out for us and we’re on top of the world, we need to remember that one day it could all fade away. On the other hand, the brighter side, all the suffering, all the frustration, all the hardships that we sometimes experience, those too will fade away and be forgotten.
Later that day, when I was giving my presentation, I got to the last slide, the slide that says that a real winner is the person that lives above the victory and above the loss, this person who gives 100% of himself to reach the desired result, but at the same time, dosen’t let the result be 100% of who he is. (doesn’t let the result define who he is and how he sees himself).
If you ask me, this is what makes champions/the quality of champions, knowing that the best results in life and also the toughest losses, are all temporary and eventually they pass. Therefore we need to savor the things that will always be with us, our truth, the relationships that are important/ that matter to us, striving to be the best at any given time, the performance – these will always be in our control.
How can we use this in our day to day activities?
We’ll use this principle to understand that every game and action in the game is different from the previous one. Until the game is over, whether it ended with a win or a loss, it’s over. I mean, for better or for worse, the next game is a brand new game (a fresh start).
Every deal and every sales call is different from the previous one. When one ends, for better or for worse. Whether it’s successful or not, it’s over. The next call is a brand new thing, an endless potential for further success.
The ability to get loose and come as new, have a fresh start to each moment, that is true victory for me.
And now it’s your turn..this too shall pass
That’s it for today
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Good luck Champ