Second Place is Absolutely Fantastic

Claudia Aronowitz

I am not a soccer fan but every four years my family watches the World Cup. I was in Mexico City for the final game in December. Like many people around the world, my family sat together to watch. France and Argentina played a fantastic and very close game. The decision came down to penalties, which is really more about chance than talent. Both teams were excellent. 

We watched the trophy celebration after the game. As I watched the delivery of medals, I started feeling upset, frustrated and angry. Kylian Mbappe, the French captain, received the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals with a sad face and zero excitement. His teammates then received their second place medals with long, sad faces.

Why the sadness? Had they not played a fantastic tournament? Had they not played an amazing and close final? Why couldn’t they be proud of themselves? 

Claudia Aronowitz - Second Place - France World Cup players

If we only celebrate our accomplishments when we are the best we will be upset and unfulfilled most of our lives.


Second place is absolutely fantastic.

Third or fifth or 10th place is also an accomplishment if you gave it your best and you learned something.

Even if it is the first time that you try something and you don’t win anything, it is an accomplishment.

Shouldn’t you feel proud of yourself because you went outside of your comfort zone and tried something new? How about when you find the courage to do something that you fear?

Is that not to be acknowledged and celebrated? 

We don’t need a medal and a standing ovation to celebrate our achievements.


When my children were young and participated in tournaments everyone on the team got a trophy so that no one had to feel badly about another child getting something they didn’t. I thought it was ridiculous. It is okay to have a bit of envy towards the winner, it is okay to know that others are better than us at something and it is okay to feel frustrated and sad.

What is not okay is to just stay there.

We can have those feelings of frustration and defeat and then take a moment to breathe and to acknowledge our best effort and how well we did, even if someone else was better.

The most important acknowledgment and recognition we need to receive is the one we give internally to ourselves.


I urge you to find a way to pat yourself on the back and put a smile on your face when:


  • You try something outside of your comfort zone
  • You do your best regardless of the result
  • You learn something new
  • You permit yourself to be open and vulnerable
  • You have a difficult conversation or do something you had been postponing
  • You seize an opportunity
  • You take a step forward without knowing where it will take you or what result it might bring
  • You fail at something and have the courage to try again

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It is our personal responsibility to convert second places into wins


Most of our lives we will not be number one. There will be someone who is better, smarter, more beautiful, taller, shorter, funnier or more creative than you.

We are human beings and we all have imperfections. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses.

The next time that you find yourself feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed or sad because you believe someone was better than you, ask yourself:

  • Did I give it my best?
  • Could I have done things differently to achieve a different result?
  • Did I make mistakes? What can I learn from those mistakes in the future?

Then ask:

  • What did I do right?
  • Did I use my strengths?
  • Did I show up authentically?
  • What can I celebrate and feel proud of?
Claudia Aronowitz - Second Place - sign saying Make Yourself Proud

In her poem Our Deepest Fear, Marianne Williamson writes  

Your playing small 
Does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking 

I invite you to feel proud of yourself whenever possible. Because second place can be absolutely fantastic!


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About Claudia Aronowitz
As a highly trained, certified coach and mediator, I take pride in helping others find clarity and acceptance of who they are. I will propel you to move forward into taking responsibility and leadership of your life and relationships—both personal and professional. With compassion and a straightforward approach, I will help you discover new insight and uncover opportunities to use your unique voice. From there you can create the life and relationships that you desire and find fulfillment and joy in life’s challenging journey. Learn More About Claudia >>

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