Winning Isn’t Everything

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The BBC’s popular entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing With the Stars in the US) is once again in full (ahem) swing.  I don’t watch the show myself, but I have listened to one of this year’s contestant’s radio show for many years. Jeremy Vine presents BBC Radio 2’s lunchtime news debate show. It’s a gentle couple of hours where the Great British Public phone in to air the views on anything from privacy laws to the price of potatoes. Jeremy has kept me company through countless lunches with small boys, keeping my sanity in check and preventing the big events of the world being lost in a fug of flying fromage frais. He also plays a lot of David Bowie.

Whilst not interested in Strictly myself, it is now such a part of the nation’s consciousness that it’s impossible not to absorb some of what is going on through osmosis. This is how I know that Vine will not be troubling the BBC Dance Department for a job once he’s voted off the show.

Ever since the great John Sergeant scandal of 2008, when the former BBC political editor managed to stay on the show, week after week, despite being hopeless at dancing, debate has raged over whether the public should be allowed to vote on such weighty matters. (Let’s ignore the fact that shows like Strictly and X-Factor tend to draw better voter turnouts than our general elections.) If there’s one thing the Great British Public like more than serious competition its a plucky underdog. If they’re a hapless, plucky underdog, so much the better.

I can’t comment on Vine’s dancing as I haven’t seen it, but today on his show he talked about a video he had made answering some of his Facebook critics, suggesting he should give up because he’s not good enough. His reasons for not doing so will strike a chord with many parents. His central point is that you shouldn’t give up on something just because you aren’t going to win. I found it refreshing to hear a public figure say they weren’t in it to win it but to do their best; to improve their own performance week after week.

Very few of us can be the best at what we do. None of us will be the best at everything we do. In posting this polite and diffident video, Vine, I think, encapsulates the best of parenting. He wants to show his daughters that you should strive to be your best but not to fear failure. Enjoy what you do, do it for yourself, be the best you can, and, above all, (maybe) dance like no-one else can see you…

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