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Book Review - 'The Long Win: The Search for a Better Way to Succeed' by Cath Bishop

by Neil Rollings

Cath Bishop is a former Olympic medallist, Foreign Office diplomat, civil servant and management consultant.  From this unique perspective, she examines the concept of competition.  She challenges the idea that winning and losing are binary alternatives, and questions whether the single-minded pursuit of victory on these terms is a positive human ambition.  Her experience of the behaviours attendant on the pursuit of competitive success – and the negative implications of failing to achieve it – question whether this short term goal is a worthy one.  She considers the implications of the quest to defeat others in a range of contexts, including education, sport, negotiations and business: many of the outcomes she describes are unattractive.

The alternative she proposes is the book’s title – The Long Win.  This is an attempt to redefine success as a longer-term concept that does not depend on the defeat of another party.  There are three component parts of her thesis:  clarity (of ambition), constant learning and connection.  This shifts from a focus on winning as a process-based orientation to a more inclusive concept.  The author suggests that this would lead to more positive and engaging experiences - as well as improved performance.

This book will be of interest to all involved in sport, business and education.  The central premise is that winning is a deeper achievement than scoring more goals than an opponent on a single occasion, and that it is not a zero-sum game.  It will inspire educators to investigate further what winning means to them, and how the answer to this question shapes all programmes and processes.