A few stories in the news cycle lately remind me of what happens when you don’t come out on top. One is Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential election, along with Republicans faring poorly in Senate elections. As The Hill reminds Republicans, they’ve got some work to do.
The first step, and what seems to be the hardest is admitting you were beat. I’ve become an expert at this, no one admits defeat more handily than I do. I recommend repeating “I definitely lost, and I’m the best at it” over and over;)
But on a serious note, that’s one of the things I’ve thought a lot about in relation to what it means to be a good man. Our culture constantly encourages us to show no weakness, fake it til you make it, etc….
Yet I’ve learned that admitting defeat and being willing to examine it is one of the quickest ways to bounce back. Once you admit that you didn’t achieve what you were hoping to, most of the pressure is relieved. Losing gives you the opportunity to admit that you can do better.
There are also more tangible losses, such as losing a parent (something I’m working through) or losing your legs in Afghanistan the way this soldier did. Those can be more difficult because there isn’t any reasoning to point to, no “I could have done something different” only the knowledge that it happened because that was a time and place the world chose to act in.
I’m a competitive person in a singular way, meaning I’m always thinking about how I could do more and/or be a better person. I don’t compare myself a lot to others (thanks mom) but I imagine that must be one of the most frustrating parts of losing, when you measure yourself against the competition….because someone else is always going to eventually be better than you (unless you are somehow gifted with the best skiing legs on earth). For me the lesson of losing seems to be that we cannot control everything, so control what you can control and love the element of surprise.
What have you learned from losing?