When it came to the desire to win, I could be obnoxious when I was a child. It’s not that I rubbed it in when I won or was a bad loser when I lost. It’s simply that I was very, very intense when I was competing — no matter how small the stakes were.
When I was in the fifth grade, we had a running team competition in a math class. We had four teams and each team had a captain. Three fourths of the class seemed to be divided randomly, but one of the teams had all the worst students in the room — and I was their captain.
For months, we would have one period each week when the teams worked together. The team captains were expected to take the lead. I was furious at being saddled with the weakest students in class, but I pushed and pushed them during those work sessions. I didn’t care whether they said they didn’t understand the work. I was going to make them understand. I wanted to win.
After several months of practice and then regular matches against each other, my team was the only one that never lost a match. The worst students — those on my team — finally understood their worst subject, because I refused to let us lose. I forced them to learn. Toward the end of the year, the teacher privately confessed to me that she did it on purpose — because she knew I was competitive enough to force my peers to learn.