Losing sucks. It can sting like a bitch, kick like a mule and cut like a knife.
You’ll lose many times in your life. That’s the truth. Losing is part of living.
But is losing really all that bad? It depends.
You can wallow in your defeat, make excuses and feel sorry for yourself. Or you can analyse it, learn from it and come back stronger.
Guess which path a man chooses?
“You lost today kid. Doesn’t mean you have to like it”
Fedora (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Despite what you’ve probably been told at school growing up, competition is a good thing. It IS the winning that counts – NOT just the taking part. Medals for participation…no.
I understand the concept – I get it. We don’t want to make anyone feel sad about not getting on the podium. Everyone deserves to share the spotlight. We are all special little sunbeams.
But here’s the thing – the real world doesn’t work like that. If you leave that warm fluffy comfort zone with the belief that everyone wins by default, you will be in for many rude awakenings my friend.
My history teacher always used to remind us of a quote used by Winston Churchill: “History is written by the victors.” And it’s true. When you win, you get to call the shots.
Winning feels good. It is the successful achievement of a pursuit and vindication of ability. A sign of dominance or an indicator of progress.
Losing usually means one of the following:
- You are not doing something right
- Someone else does it better
- You are doing the wrong thing
- You have not fully exploited the opportunity
- You have not explored and mastered new ways of thinking and doing
And many men can’t get their head around this fact. How many times do you hear things like this:
“Why can’t I get a girlfriend? I’m a nice guy. It’s not fair”
“I’ve been in the same position at my company for 6 years but I can’t get a pay-rise. It’s not fair.”
Yes. It’s not fair. It’s never about fair. There are winners and – in order for there to be winners – there must be losers.
So when losing pulls down your pants and boots you in the ass, you have a choice:
- Like it, give up and resign yourself to defeat
- Don’t like it, and do something about it
Take Conor McGregor for example. He’s one of the biggest stars in the UFC right now and the first man in the sport to hold two belts simultaneously. But he has felt the sting of defeat when he faced Nate Diaz in their first fight.
Did it hurt him? Absolutely. Did it dent his confidence? No doubt. Did he roll over and accept it? Judge for yourself:
“I’ll handle this loss like a champion. I will not shy away from it. I will not make excuses for it. I lost in there. There was errors. But errors can be fixed if you face them head on. I will celebrate this – like you should. You should celebrate all adversity because it makes you grow. It makes you stronger.”
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Mankind has got to where it is today through a long history of evolving ways of living, working and thinking. And throughout history, only what is useful and innovative remains. What is useless is thrown out.
Men who improvise, adapt and overcome – that’s who we want to be. Just like Dick Fosbury (hehe…Dick)
Fosbury was an above-average high jumper in his High School years in Portland, Oregon. He struggled with the jump technique and was failing to make a mark in the sport at any kind of level.
Dick could have given up. He could have decided that high jumping wasn’t for him. Instead, he experimented with different techniques. And after two years of trial and error, he had perfected a method that involved jumping over the bar backwards, head first.
He broke his school record and then finished second in the State Championships using his new approach – now known as the ‘Fosbury Flop’.
At College, some of his coaches tried to convince him to continue working on the old ‘straddle’ high jump method. They still weren’t convinced by the the Flop. But when he broke the College record in 1965, the Fosbury Flop gained popularity and became the technique of choice for many athletes.
He continued perfecting the Fosbury Flop and in 1968, he won the US Olympic Trails and earned the right to represent his country in the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
You know where this is going right….he smashed it at the Olympics – winning gold with an Olympic record of 2.24m. Happy days for Dick.
Fosbury was successful because he was first a loser. Lack of success at High School and a desire to succeed forced him to look at things a different way. He innovated for competitive advantage and to become a winner. The rest is history.
Don’t forget about your boy Dick.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work
Competition drives advances in civilisation. We’ve got to where we are today because those who came before us were prepared to try new ways of doing things to gain a competitive advantage.
And when you try new things or take a chance, sometimes it doesn’t work out. And you lose. Then you have a choice – give up, or try again. It’s only those who totally give up who actually lose.
Loads of great and successful men in history were losers at one time or another. Check it:
- James Earl Jones had a stammer as a child and barely spoke. Today he’s probably best known as one of the most famous voices in cinematic history – Darth effing Vader.
- Walt Disney got fired by a newspaper for having no imagination and had a number of businesses go bust before he went on to create all those lovable little animated characters and make a shitload of money.
- Soichiro Honda. This guy got rejected for a job as an engineer by Toyota and made his own scooters in his spare time. He eventually grew this business into the Honda company that we all know today.
All these guys tried – and failed – at something at one time or or another. But they followed their passions, kept on trucking and success eventually found them.
And that’s the thing – it’s ok to lose. In fact, we need to lose sometimes.
Many of us are so afraid to try….and lose. But to be the best man you can be, you need conflict. You need competition. You need to be fighting in the arena. And you need to lose.
Losing is a test of your resolution and an opportunity for you to discover weaknesses in yourself that you can work on. Don’t weep and moan about but, but take some time to think about what went wrong and how you can learn from it. It might be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but you will learn something new about yourself.
Winning is easy. It’s confirmation that you have done something right. Past tense. But don’t let it make you complacent. We continually improve to make ourselves better. That journey never ends.
Losing for the win
We are men. We are not afraid of losing. Losing does not break us. But it can make us better.
Losing builds character. Nobody is born a natural at anything. Skill and self-confidence in your abilities is built over lots and lots of trail and error. You will only know what really works by first understanding what doesn’t work.
Live in the moment. Trust your gut. Believe in your abilities. And test yourself against the world. Don’t think about the prospect of something not working out or that fact that you might not succeed.
Get out there. Try things. Fail. Fall over. Lose. And ultimately win.