Nobody likes to lose. It feels like crap to see your efforts crumble. It sucks to be told on your face that you are not good enough (at least for now). But, unfortunately, you DO need to lose sometimes.
Losing is like a slap on the face. It works as an alarm clock, waking you up and bringing you back to reality. And you need that sometimes! You need to be reminded that there is always room for improvement and that you can always be better than you are today.
Depending on your mindset, you may feel that everything you do is an evaluation of yourself. That means that whether you succeed or fail, it has a direct correlation with whom you are.
As if you are not worthy enough, you are dumb and there is nothing you can do about it. Carol Dweck explains in her book “Mindset” how we pretty much approach life with either a Fixed and/or a Growth Mindset.
While the fixed mindset has you believe that your abilities are given and there is nothing you can do to improve them. The growth mindset takes setbacks as an opportunity to learn, as a signal telling you that more effort is needed to be invested in order to achieve success. In other words, you are not ready for it yet and you must continue working on our development.
Don’t judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up back again – Nelson Mandela
I completely agree with Dweck. I believe that every time we are faced with defeat, we have two options, either we drop the towel, lose face and fall into depression because we are a “loser” (Fixed Mindset).
Or we better pick up our bags fast and go back into training (Growth Mindset). I think we may all agree that taking the first choice leads directly to failure. And I call it “failure” simply because it doesn’t allow us to learn from our mistakes but, the second one turns it into a glorious comeback!
So why can losing be good for you?
To see these benefits, will not be easy. It can be very easy to blame external factors as the cause of our loss. “The professor hates me,” “The wind was very strong that day,” “The other guys are better funded,” Etc. Having this attitude will automatically block you from benefiting from losing and here is why.
The reflection process that makes you go through is not experienced by the winner. The thorough inner search, replaying every single step of the way; every action, every conversation, trying to figure out your weaknesses is something the winner doesn’t go through.
The winner will only know what works (if anything) but, you will know what doesn’t and have an idea of what actually does (you can only be certain if you apply it and win). At the same time, thanks to this reflection process, you develop a framework that can be applied to other areas of your life and projects, improving your overall self.
By understanding why you didn’t win, you will know what you need to fix. This has the power to improve your level of self-awareness and your emotional intelligence. Both elements have a direct impact on your empathetic skills because they enable you to connect with your emotions. In doing so, you will be able to better understand and connect with others.
This new understanding will give you added motivation because you will know what to focus your efforts on now. You will be eager to test your assumptions and the idea of overcoming the obstacle that was holding you back is always exciting enough to keep you moving forward.
With your new goal, your determination to get ahead drives you to become more focused, efficient, and more confident. As a result of this, you can eliminate distractions and invest your resources and efforts efficiently.
Also, as you turn weaknesses into strengths, the wounds heal, and with that your self-confidence, which sees a major boost because of going through the experience once again. Having more preparation as before gives you the determination you need, commonly found in winners.
It makes you humble again. The shock of losing makes you vulnerable because it crumbles down your little tower of ego. Which many times is the reason you fail in the first place. This makes you take a step back and lets you listen and learn from others. Again building stronger and better relations with others.
We should also recognize not winning.
Today we celebrate winning as the ultimate goal but, do you know what we are really recognizing? Awarding somebody as the best, it’s nothing more than a recognition of the effort that the person has put into developing his/her talents, skills, and abilities.
We don’t really prize them because they were born with innate abilities as if they are bigger than life. We just like to think that as our way of excusing ourselves not to put the effort it takes to develop their level of abilities.
That is why I believe that by recognizing effort, more people will stop being afraid of falling. By recognizing effort, people feel supported and get encouraged to participate without the fear of failure. This makes them more confident in their skills, allowing them to push their creative abilities further. Impacting everything around them by developing solutions to their problems.
Just look at marathons where people are congratulated just by participating. People feel amazing just by having made the decision to participate and are not pressured to win. If we could expand this feeling to other areas of our lives, like our work or at home, imagine what we could achieve.
Food for thought.
How did you learn to walk? How did you learn to ride a bike? You fell, you learned, you adapted. You fell again, you learned why you adapted and there you go. Did it ever cross your mind to ask, what if I don’t learn how to walk?
As you grow older, fears take over as support systems fade away. That’s when you have to take over and decide to push for it. The reason why you fail, most of the time is in your mindset. It’s not because you don’t have the skills or abilities, they can always be developed but, it’s your mindset is the one that will make the difference.
There is a lot to learn from losing but, only if you want to improve. Only if you want to grow and get better at what you do. The moment you start seeing things that way, you begin to lose the fear of falling because, just as when you were a kid, you will get up better prepared.
Winning can be easy sometimes, it’s falling and coming back stronger where the challenge really is. Next time you find yourself on the ground, remember that sometimes we get what we need and not what we want. That is why the dots only connect looking backward but, for that, you still need to try your best.
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Before you go, I want to know about a situation in which you didn’t manage to win that thing you really wanted. How did you feel and how did you overcome it? Share your thoughts on the comment section below.