It’s not whether you win or lose that’s important, but how you play the game! Although my competitive nature has a bit of a problem with that, being it is more fun when you’re winning than losing obviously. I’ve developed a new found respect for the nuances of losing.
I have also been able to look back as I get older to come to the realization that I could have handled situations better, and kept going when an obstacle presented itself. Out of this comes the following reasons you need to lose.
1. It Keeps You Humble!
If you’re always on the winning side, never feeling the biting sting of a loss, you will feel invincible. When you lose it affords you the time to let the emotions out, to look at things objectively, and realize there is always someone out there, that can rain on your parade. How can you win all the time and feel pain?
You can’t! Pain and anguish is a necessary process of life that in the end builds a better you! Now the heat is off you, and you can concentrate, on what needs to happen from this point on. Humble pie tastes terrible going down, but shapes your future character!
2. You Learn What You Need To Work On!
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, especially when you pop the tape in and watch what just happened to you. A digital recording is the most significant invention known to the athletic kind, and it does not lie! Your friends will tell you what you want to hear; the video will tell you what you need to understand! If you’re a serious athlete, you will put video study into your weekly schedule so you can break down any deficiencies you need to give extra effort too. Having your practices recorded is also a good idea because you play as you practice. Also asked trusted advisors, someone who will tell you straight, where your weaknesses are and what you need to do to correct them. If you take on an honest look, you will eventually find the kinks in the armor of the dream team! Put all the data together, and add it to your practice plan, until it is no longer a point of discussion.
3. It Get’s The Butterflies Out Of The Way.
When you play the number one team, or go up against the number one athlete, you know the anxiety that situation brings! You can’t sleep, eat, and you have knots in your stomach, about being “posterized” after being schooled by “said” superstar.
After the game, however, you realize you didn’t get beat as bad as you imagined but realized they are human like you and can make mistakes also. Now you have a bit of an edge, why? Because there larger than life persona has been reduced by realizing you can play the game too!
The stars have the same anxieties, fears, and deficiencies we all do; they are just better at hiding them! Think about it; it’s hard to make it to a Super Bowl twice. The first time a team goes they are caught up in the pomp and circumstances of the moment, sometimes losing the focus on why they are there.
But the team that has been there before understands and treats it as business as usual as if it’s no big deal. All because they have planned for as many contingencies as possible. Feed your butterflies the loss, then feed your resume a win!
4. It Boosts You, Opponents, Confidence!
Wait, what!?! I know you’re saying I’m out of my mind! Why would I want to boost the confidence of a team that’s already better than me? You have to give respect when it’s due to somebody who has excelled in life.
Congratulate, and be kind to them. You’d be surprised how many people fear the big guns and may not approach or talk to them. The majority are incredibly personable people, if they’re not, don’t sweat it it’s their loss! Think about it you, are a non-factor, and have no credibility in the eyes of your opponent.
Being underrated is the perfect scenario to be in when you are up against number one. You can drop in the rankings, but you can rise as well, number one has only one place to go, down! Meditate on that for a moment.
When you line up against number one, you have nothing to prove, and everything to gain. All you are worried about is executing the game plan that has been worked on up to this moment and performing better than the last time.
The other player ranked above you are terrified of a status decline and becoming irrelevant, or just plain losing to you. Remember pride goes before the fall, and I don’t need to give you specific examples, well except for one … Goliath!
5. You Get To Meet That Athlete Again!
That’s what I love about competitive sports; it’s one big battle that usually puts you up against familiar foes. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Especially in team sports, rarely do the teams that are annihilating their opponents change their tendencies.
Even in individual games, if you study you rival long enough, you will be able to get inside their head. You’re one of the fortunate ones if you are in a conference where you play the same teams every year. In my opinion, nothing beats a rivalry, some of your most significant battles evolve out of situations like this.
You now have one of those stories that you bore your kids with, over and over and over again! Relish the opportunity to see how much closer you are to your opponent, that alone will build your confidence.
6. You Need To Fail!
There seems to be a resistance to fail at tasks these days. Not keeping scores anymore, handing out participation ribbons, and not giving failing grades. Your school may have put winners and losers on the back burner, but life has not!
Not failing doesn’t bear any resemblance whatsoever to what you will face in your coming days. So why not become accustomed to it now, when the stakes are low, and the rewards are not as crucial? If you win continually or always get everything you want, you won’t be able to appreciate the journey you took to get to where you are.
It reminds me of a football game where we played a big rival team who I use to be the head coach. It was hard for me to do because I knew the guys on the other side. Our coaching staff helped build these guys into a powerhouse program in the three years I was there.
Seven onside kick later we were destroyed by them, and some of the comments of players I thought I knew, let’s say weren’t the greatest. To make a long story short, we beat them the next year because that was probably my primary focus. Problem is we overlooked our next opponent who we should have defeated and lost out for the city finals!
Some of the most celebrated autobiographies written of some fantastic people in history, both from the ones who persevered, and the ones who gave up. Be the one who has a story which makes somebody say, “I can’t believe he went through all that,” makes you sit up and realize I can get through it. Learn to fail!
7. Your Career Will End At Some Point In Time.
Some athletes refuse to leave their chosen sport and some exit on their terms. Some of you reading this may have a “last” story. I know the last football game I coached and lost, was the feeling of not ever going to coach another down of football again!
Of course, I wasn’t happy not getting the win, but the overwhelming feelings were about, not planning practices, not seeing the players anymore, watching amazing hits, or coming up with different cheers to break huddles.
The smell of the fresh cut grass, the ride to games, the motivational speeches, most of all seeing young boys become men was an overwhelming feeling!
Those were the same feelings I had playing my last game and moving to a higher league, or deciding to hang up my cleats. Does any of this ring a bell for you? If so you have feelings, and you need to be able to empathize with somebody that is going through them at the moment.
Why? Because your turn will come, and it will train you to handle all the “lasts” you will have in your life. When your hooting and hollering and living it up, take a moment to think about the other side and savor them. You will be a better person for it.
8. You Learn Not To Quit
Everyone should read Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”. Which talks about a man giving up after initial success finding gold, but later lost it and gave up three feet short of locating it again. You can read the whole story here. Do yourself a favor and memorize this quote at the end of the article.
“Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”
Failure teaches you “when the going get’s tough, the tough get going”. Quitting is the easy way out, just hit the reset button, and start something else. The majority of the time you are your own worst enemy, with the voices in your head saying you’re no good, or you can’t do this.
When all odds are against you, and you triumph over all the circumstances, you will say to yourself, ‘I’m glad I didn’t quit!” Not giving up is a valuable mental trait that will come in handy later on down the road.
Look At Losing As An Opportunity, Not A Defeat!
Losing is a necessary process in the development of life skills. Do not be afraid to fail. Part of the process is how you deal with situations when they don’t turn out the way you visualized it.
Do you freeze up, quit, and go into negative self-talk mode? Or after a moment of profound reflection do you shake the dust off and go after your goal? If you can answer this question in the positive, then you’ve made progress.