Finishing is a win-win

April 1, 2010

As the deadline for the Medical Laboratory of the Year
2010 judging approached, I was
thinking about what it means to win.
Entering a competition and completing the application gives us the
opportunity to remind ourselves just how much we have accomplished; we
often forget this in the hectic lives we lead.

We often hear how the medical laboratory
professionals get shortchanged, yet we have only one week a year during
which we celebrate their tremendous contributions to healthcare.

As I pondered the MLO contest results, my
memory wandered back to my own childhood challenges like the third-grade
Maypole Dance affair. We fair-haired girls had to wear plain white crepe
paper dresses while the brunettes got the pretty pink. I squirted
fountain pen ink on mine once we hit the locker room.

What about my sixth-grade spelling bee, a competition
for which I was absolutely born? I studied for weeks and was first to
stand up and spell “absence” aloud. Having transposed the “s” and the
“c,” I was, thus, the first to sit down — and pout.

In ninth-grade, there was the awful soccer-field
goal-posts episode. Being the next-to-tallest in P.E. class, I was
chosen, as was the tallest girl, to act as a goal post since the school
could not afford two more poles. I was never so sullen as when I was a
post. After that, competing was not a big part of my young life.

As our judges reviewed the applications for our
annual contest, my musings turned to losing and what that kind of news
might do to contest applicants. Would they, like me, sit down and pout?
Would they mope around the lab? Would they squirt ink all over their
copy of their contest application?

Then I found this statement by motivational speaker
Manuel Diotte: “Winning isn't always finishing first. Sometimes, winning
is just finishing.” Ah ha, it is how you play the game.

Had “just finishing” been the other choice in my
childhood win-or-lose circumstances, not winning certainly would have seemed
less defeating, less deflating. Just finishing is actually a win-win.

The exercise of fully participating measures us
against others; it shows us a) where we can improve or b) with whom we
can share our winning secrets. Either way, we win with interactions with

Being in the race to the finish line, whether first
or last, not only demonstrates our fortitude but also gains us a smidgen
of courage every time we step up to whatever starting line.

And, like our second runner-up from 2008 who won
first runner-up this year, we should always try again and again … and

As we congratulate this year's Medical Lab of the
Year winner and our two runners-up, we also recognize the commitment and
strivings of a host of other labs that won a top slot by “just
finishing.” Our hats are off to you!