[August 30, 2019] I needed a one-hour credit college course to graduate, so I took Art History. The course, which I planned to do my absolute least amount of work to pass, turned into one of the most interesting courses ever. I learned about what was to become my favorite piece of art; the white Parian marble statue by an unknown Greek sculptor from the 2nd century (you can see some good photographs of it here).
Known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the statue stands as one of the most beautiful depictions of drama and motion in marble in the history of art. It is symbolic of the importance in victory of human affairs and continues as an iconic representation of victory over destructive enemy forces that wished to dominate the Greeks.
U.S. Army General George S. Patton once said, “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” My art history professor said that there could be no great victory without great sacrifice. Her comment and Patton’s idea of accepting challenges are one. Victory implicitly means that some sacrifice must be made; else there can be no exhilaration, no celebration, and no value in the defeat of an enemy.
Others have written about the idea of sacrifice. For example, there is University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson; who I’ve quoted here on occasion. He frequently lectures about the Bible and other ancient sources which speak of sacrifice as something that is part of the tragic story of humans throughout our existence on this Earth. We find some variation of it in nearly every common thread of human stories across all cultures and time.
To experience exhilaration, there must be a challenge. Young boys in scouting, who I get to see almost every week, jump into any competition we provide for them. They are naturally competitive (I don’t use the term “naturally” except in its full meaning as inborn). Of course, their excitement on winning a game is uninhibited and fun to watch.
The exhilaration of victory is what we crave. Everyone likes to be on a winning team, to pick the winning horse, and to come out on top in a card game. It helps drive us. It’s one of the best motivators. When working with people – of all ages and abilities – I’ve found that the enticement of victory is much stronger than we give credit. Leaders would do well to remember this.