I remember reading the Berenstain Bears books as a kid. One of the standard plots was Papa Bear telling the kids to do something but not doing it himself. A nice example of how it is hypocritical (and usually pointless) to tell people to do something while obviously not doing it yourself.
When I talk to Elli about games and winning I send the message that it is all about doing your best. I want her to believe in working hard and giving her all, regardless of whether or not she wins or loses. After all, there will always be somebody better than you at anything so there isn't any point in mourning your inability to beat someone with better luck, better genetics, or better circumstances than yourself. You only have your own ability to work with, so best to maximize it.
Stoic philosophy agrees. Heck, probably any reasonable philosophy that has anything to say on the subject agrees. As far as I know the science also tells us that you can't do a ton to make your kids succeed, but convincing them to work hard is pretty much the best thing you can do, if you can manage it.
Everyone should focus on maximizing their potential, not on comparing themselves to others.
But when I compete... not so much.
I want to be number 1. 2nd place is the first loser, and I am not interested in being the first loser.
When I joined a new World of Warcraft guild recently they took me on a test run to see how I would do compared to everyone else in the guild. My damage to the enemies was really good, and I logged #1 for the night. People in the guild congratulated me, but I wasn't satisfied. I was #1 on one section of the night by a huge margin and #4 on the rest. In sum I was the top, but that wasn't enough to make me feel like I deserved it. I played well, but some people beat me some of the time. Everyone thought I was ridiculous for not accepting the 'title' for the night.
Not good enough! It doesn't matter that I played well, or that I did as much as I could. I must be first, always.
No matter how many times I tell Elli to focus on herself, to only worry about doing her best, I can't make myself believe it when I am playing games.
I am sure that working hard to do your best is the healthiest way to live for most people. Makes me wonder though if that absurd drive to win is a necessary thing for those who are competing to be the best in the world. If there isn't another player forcing you to push harder, if you only look at your own development, can you ever be the best there is? I suspect not.
Being the best there is is a path to sadness, mostly, so I don't recommend it, but I think I might be programmed to do that anyway.