“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”– Amelia Earhart
This is a follow-up to last week’s Climb on victories.
An early thing to learn in life is how to take a loss. It happens to the best of us. Losses hurt and even burn deeply when the stakes are high. You don’t always win. And no, you shouldn’t get a prize for losing. It’s life and there is no reward for such a thing. We’re disservicing kids in the gentle attempts of the school years to make everyone a winner. It doesn’t prepare them for the realities of life.
Learning how to take a loss is much more than keeping your head high and not feeling bad. A loss can even teach much more than a victory. This isn’t just a sports lesson, this is a leadership lesson.
Basic Level Loss – I’m sure the first lessons in taking a loss started with my dad and were reinforced time and again through various coaches I’ve had in sports as I’ve grown. The early lesson is not to be a “sore loser”. If you’ve been bested, don’t throw yourself on the ground and pout. Stand tall, shake the hands of your opponent, and keep your chin high – “you’ll get them next time.”
Not so easy sometimes growing up, or now.
Next Level Loss – is to ace the above but to go deeper inside yourself. I’m going to divide this into two fronts – lessons and energy.
Lessons – The basic loss level deals with how you’re saving face but does little to learn and apply to the next challenge. When wins and losses become lessons you’ll never really lose again. Now everything has a value to be applied forward. I’m not saying that you should hope for a loss in sport, work, or competition. Of course, a win in your scenario is what you want to achieve (remember the prize obtained ie. win, promotion, goal obtained), but if you lost, apply the tactical lessons ahead. For example, what did you learn about your adversary or environment? How does that impact your planning and moves? What repetitions or practice do you need to implement? Maybe the goals need to change.
Whoever can make adjustments for the next round, whatever a round looks like for you, is going to be much more likely to succeed. Sometimes small adjustments to get you across the finish line. Other times, you need to scrap it all and start over. Having outside perspectives or coaching helps with this.
Energy – A loss can sap your confidence if you let it, especially when it’s public or in front of people you know, work with, and lead. It can be deflating or can stir up rage as seen by Ken Dorsey from the Bills this past week here.
When you take a loss or defeat, it can have a variety of emotions like frustration, anger, and jealousy. Not helpful – you’ll need to practice humility and patience. But. That passion can be diverted to something more positive like determination and dedication. Sometimes a loss can sit and simmer, driving you harder for the next go.
But it’s all a choice in the end and practice makes perfect. It’s better to ask yourself ahead of time, how do I handle losses when they come my way and how do I want to use them to grow from?
Here’s to your next win and loss!
— Adam Jarosz
This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.