As we close out Olympics 2012 with some rousing performances by the US Basketball, Diving, Swimming, Track & Field and more, here’s a recent story that redefines sportsmanship. Meghan Vogel and Arden McMath are two young Ohio track stars who made the talk show circuit earlier this summer. Not because they won the race, but because Meghan intentionally lost the race to help her rival Arden cross the finish line after Arden collapsed on the track. But Meghan did more than forfeit her own interest in winning - she draped Arden’s arm over her shoulders and led her to the finish line.
Meghan actually positioned Arden in front of her so that Arden could walk across the line and finish before her. Cynics might say that Meghan was already losing the race. She was, after winning a grueling competition just an hour before. But think about it - would you stop to help a struggling competitor?
I wondered, so I asked around. And one friend candidly said, “It never would have occurred to me. I would have been so busy pushing myself toward the finish line, that thought would have totally escaped me.” Was her coach proud of Meghan, even if it meant her losing the race? Gosh, I hope so. But since coaches’ careers are built on making winners - and there is only one winner in a race - it would be understandable if the coach felt a sting of disappointment, since Meghan will be off to college next year and under another coach's tutelage.
In four years, she’ll be entering the workforce. Will her new employer welcome aboard someone who has a record of giving her edge to a direct competitor? Again, I sincerely hope so.
But let’s be honest: The workplace is not typically a setting where the leadership is pleased when its employees hand over the company’s best opportunities to a competitor. Though maybe that’s short-term thinking and we should be looking at the long-term. That is, making those tough calls where we may lose in the short-term but ultimately win by capturing the mindshare of our colleagues, customers and our competitors with generosity and good sportsmanship.
Still not sure? Quick. Tell me. Who won the race that Meghan Vogel intentionally lost?