[DFT] Fw: [ChivalryToday] Chivalry & Sore Winners

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Fri Feb 11 19:00:00 PST 2005

Chivalry & The Sore Winner
By Scott Farrell
©2005, Shining Armor Enterprises

There’s an unusual term creeping into our lexicon: sore winners.
Ironically, being a sore winner means achieving success without grace
or dignity — offering belittling comments or obscene gestures to “cap
off” a victory. Normally that’s the kind of behavior associated with
someone who has been defeated, not with someone who’s victorious, but
increasingly we’re getting the message that success, not failure, gives
someone license to act like a petulant 6-year-old.

Think that’s an overstatement? If so, take a look at just about any of
today’s exemplary characters. In books, movies and TV dramas, the
heroes are applauded when they whip off a nasty one-liner after
defeating the villain. In sports and games, players gain a certain
amount of cachet based on how well they “taunt” their opponents with
quips and posturing after scoring a point or winning a match.

Does concluding a contest with some kind of spiteful variant of the
phrase, “So there!” demonstrate a fierce, untamed “warrior spirit,” or
is it a destructive, petty indulgence? Here’s what Christine de Pizan,
a woman who wrote one of the most influential manuals of chivalry of
the 15th century (and who knew a thing or two about “warrior spirit”)
had to say about sore winners:

“According to the customs of chivalry, a leader must display noble
behavior in battle if he wishes to gain honor and praise, meaning that
even to his enemies he must be upright and truthful … This custom was
observed by the valiant King Pyrrhus, who gained great praise because,
having observed so many brave deeds among his enemies, he honored them
greatly when they came to him as envoys, even though they were his
bitter enemies, and he even gave those killed in battle an honorable

Why would a warrior give honor to “bitter enemies”? Although the
concept might seem quaintly archaic on the surface, there are sound
reasons behind it.

Most pragmatically, allowing a rival to retain his or her dignity in
defeat increases the odds that you’ll be given the same courtesy when
the tables are turned — when you’re the one who’s lost the crucial game
or failed to land the big account.

Additionally, it’s a means of bringing closure to a tense or
acrimonious situation — a way of signaling to everyone (allies and
adversaries alike) that the competition is done and it is time to move
on, rather than allowing past situations and goals to obscure your
vision and hinder your productivity.

But perhaps most importantly, it gives you, as the victor, the
opportunity to pause and reflect on what’s been won. Saluting a
defeated professional, political or athletic rival is a reminder to
yourself that the triumph was a meaningful and important one. Like an
ancient general ordering the enemy soldiers buried with honor, you
allow yourself to acknowledge, “This was a fight worth winning.”

And please note: Being a gracious, chivalrous winner isn’t limited to
contests of “gentlemanly restraint.” Even bitter, hard-fought battles
should be terminated with a salute rather than a “spit in the eye” — in
fact, it’s probably more important in a contentious situation than in
an amicable one.

The knight raises a sword to the conquered foe, the samurai bows to the
defeated adversary, Zulu warriors perform a war dance before their
vanquished enemies — all means of showing dignity, grace and nobility
in the moment of success. The Code of Chivalry reminds leaders of all
types to take the honorable path in victory and avoid being “sore

= = = = = = =

Readers are permitted and encouraged to share this article with others
as a way of furthering the understanding of the Code of Chivalry in the
modern world. Scott Farrell’s seminar “Leadership Secrets of the Code
of Chivalry” is available to businesses and civic organizations
throughout the Southern California area; more information can be found
on our website. Please include all copyright statements and
attributions when forwarding Chivalry Today articles. Copyright 2005
Scott Farrell and Shining Armor Enterprises. Visit our website at
www.ChivalryToday.com .

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