This is an odd one, I know. But it goes to the heart of role playing. Unlike say a board game or card game, or a tabletop miniature game the goal of role playing games is not always victory. Or at least not the Conan definition of victory:
Wait, you say, what about the bad guys? Should we not try to crush them, drive them before us, and listen to the lamentation of their women (all metaphorically of course.) That depends on the game and game style. In my Pathfinder game, it is always very clear who the bad guys are, and that we should crush them. In my D&D 5E game, I am making things less clear. But all of that strays from the point I am trying to make.
When I say that victory is not always the ultimate goal of role playing and being a better role player I am referring more to the sense of competition that arises in other games. For comparison, how many people have family stories and memories of board games gone bad? Where Monopoly ended when the winning player flicked the last survivors piece off the board (well that part may just be me.) Yes, the goal of those games is to ultimately have fun, but there is still a sense of competition. That can be fun, everyone competing and enjoying trash talk and friendly competition.
In contrast, the goal of role playing is cooperative. A group of people gathered together to tell a story. There is some adversarial spirit with the GM against the players. But in the end, everyone is gathered to tell that story.
I will admit to having fallen into a trap of being competitive. I wanted to be the one doing the most damage, to deliver the death blow to the monsters. I am not perfect. That said when a group is working together; when everyone in the room is in character, and the stories and actions are flowing, it is a great thing.
This piece of advice definitely melds with yesterday’s topic of teamwork. But I want to go beyond that. This is not about knowing your role in the group. It is about realizing you are engaged in a group activity where there are no winners unless everyone wins. Instead of trying to outdo the other people in the room your approach should be to be your character and back off from time to time and let the Wookie win for the sake of the overall experience.
By extension, this approach also means an acceptance that you cannot win every battle, kill all your enemies in every encounter. There are times when the bad guys will win the battle and the best thing to do is run away. And not every encounter has to be a duel to the death. Sometimes the goal is just to get the loot and get out before the guard arrives. There are times when the participating in an encounter where everyone had to run away can be more fun and a better memory. I know one of the best sessions of Shadowrun that I ever played involved our team getting our asses handed to us, barely surviving, and being happy to knock out just one of the bad guys. It still made a great story.