Sometimes You’re Going to Finish in Second Place

Recently, my Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. This game caused me to reflect on how sometimes people do things better than others. It’s just a fact. You can be great and others can still do things better than you. It’s vital to understand that you are not going to come in first place at everything. The Steelers’ defeat in the Super Bowl also made me think about how important it is to recognize how thankful you should be to be in second place. In most situations, second place is not an awful place to be in at all. For example, many other teams in the National Football League (NFL) didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. They would have loved to have had an opportunity to be in the game. The Steelers finished in second place overall but first place in the American Football Conference (AFC). The Steelers are the reigning AFC Champions! You should not overlook the greatness in your second place to someone else on certain aspects in life. We all come in second place to someone on something. There’s no need to become frustrated with this or to try to fight against it.

When someone can do something better than you, acknowledge that he or she can. People will admire you for recognizing what others can do better than you. I’m not suggesting for you to simply desire to come in second place all of the time—not at all! Even if you don’t try to come in first place at something, you will because some aspect of your life is far greater than that same aspect in others’ lives. You can do something that’s better than others. You simply have to acknowledge, discover, and embrace your first place things.

You don’t have to become envious of those people who finish ahead of you. When you do the best you can do, learn to accept this. Always strive to improve yourself but know that with even all of the striving to become better in the world someone is still going to be better than you in something. You’re not a failure when you finish in second place. Sometimes second place is where you need to be to help you to grow to where you should be in not only that specific area where you finished in second place, but also to buttress and burgeon other areas of your life that don’t even qualify to finish in second place to anyone.

When you come in second place, you don’t have to let us know that you’re in second place. Don’t let your actions communicate that you’re saying, “I know you’re better than me at this, but I’m in second place to you and please know that!” The person in first place does not need to see and/or hear you communicate this. The first place person will simply see that there’s something larger going on with you and something larger wrong with you that is causing you to act in such a way.

I come in second place to many people on many things but I don’t envy them. I have a firm understanding that I cannot do everything, be everything, know everything, and control everything. Life will be much more enjoyable when more people learn that there’s always going to be someone better than them at something. I might not have offered any real novel knowledge in this piece, but what this piece does is call all of us to improve, learn, know, do, be, and control the things we can and don’t worry about those things that we cannot. Don’t live your life chasing and concerned about finishing in first place in areas of life you already know you cannot.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. I don’t think it’s anything wrong with wanting to be the best. Now when this seriously effects your perception and goals, then that’s where the problem comes in. As far as the game, I think they just outperformed the Steelers. That’s all. Not everyone wins every time, no matter how solid or “good” they are. I remember someone saying, you don’t have to have the crown to be the king. So true.

    1. Drew, I agree 100%. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the best. My problem is when those in second place and lower try to use oversimplified rationales for why the person is in first place. People have to be comfortable with what they are great at and be willing to accept the reality that they will not be great at other things. There’s no need for those in second place and below to get frustrated with those at the top, especially when they know that they cannot reach the top in certain aspects of life.

      There has to be a greater understanding that we have to bloom where we are planted. I may not can write as great as Toni Morrison, but I am certainly going to be the greatest writer Antonio Maurice Daniels can be–and this makes me happy and fulfilled. Some people want to be the best at everything, and they set themselves up to be miserable failures with that type of attitude. Then these same people will envy you, hate on you, and attempt to characterize your greatness in a negative light. Thanks for reading and your response, Drew!

  2. It is utterly amazing how people will try to do or say anything to justify why they didn’t win and why the person who did ‘doesn’t deserve’ it. I’m with you…it’s the attempts to make everyone else miserable if you didn’t get what you wanted that’s the problem. But oh, sometimes it is so hard to move on from failure, especially if you’ve had multiple failures. I think it’s Freudian projection really; “I didn’t do well because of x” turns into “well he may have won but he still did x”. I know I myself have to struggle not to fall into the jealousy and tearing others down in my own bitterness trap

    1. @Vati fautheree: The one thing I like most about your response is you are willing to admit that you have to struggle with jealousy and not tearing others down, but other people are not willing to be courageous enough to be honest like you. I agree 100% with your response. I’m glad to hear from you! Thanks for reading and posting a response on my site. Love you!

  3. Even on a deeper level some people just roll 7 and 11s more in life. Its just not fair sometimes(life isn’t is it?) But the main thing is to maximize your capability and worth. Its great to compete with others but don’t overshadow what you can truly accomplish

    1. I strongly believe in the power of competition and that in a capitalist reality that competition has to be engaged in to have some level of success. I just encourage people to engage in healthy competition; that is, competition that unites and that does not divide. Some people just always feel like they have to outdo others at everything–that’s not a good look on them either. Life is fair fundamentally, especially when we learn to embrace what cards we have been given and work to improve those cards and/or gain some new cards. Thanks for reading and your response.

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