When you think about it, this question is quite a mouthful! Let’s look at it in the vernacular of the sport of hockey (one of my favourite spectator activities – I am Canadian after all :D): are you going to play offence or are you going to play defence?
As a team, if all you do is play defence, you’ll never score a goal. You can’t, because the net you have to score in is on the other end of the rink! You’ll always be reacting to players from the other team. Quite honestly, all you’ll be doing is trying to stay in the game, trying to stay alive, and the unfortunate part is that because you’re not taking control of the direction of the game, you will be playing defence forever (or at least until the buzzer goes signalling the end of the period or game). At the back of your mind will always be the fear of “what if the other team scores?” On the other hand, if the other team is playing offence, they’re going to gain confidence. After all, they’re controlling the direction of the game, and others must react to their plays and manoeuvres. Sooner or later, simply because they’re on the end of the ice where the net is, they’ll score goals!
And therein lies the difference. Those who play to win are playing on a different end of the ice than those who play not to lose. If you’re playing to win, you’re outside your zone, you’re in unfamiliar territory, you’re taking risks, you’re up against obstacles (other players) that get in your way. But the singular advantage is that you can score goals that will allow you to win the game. If you’re playing not to lose, you’re staying in secure and known surroundings where there are no difficulties or complications, and the going is easy. But of course the most you can accomplish is status quo.
So which is it, are you playing to win, or are you playing not to lose? Why?