6/8/08

The Art of Losing / Succeeding – Part 2


I concluded my last post with, “There is an art to losing…the art comes in losing the battle, not near the final lap of the race.” Thus continuing on, I’d love to further my discussion about losing. There are several factors involved, and while none of us ever like to lose, it is an inevitability that someday we will all lose to someone else.

In high school, I ran for VP of my class three years in a row (I was treasurer, my freshmen year). The first year I lost by one vote, the next year by two votes, and third year by three votes. Every year I found myself frustrated not knowing what else to do. When we lose, especially after trying so hard, no-one ever envies the winner, even for that matter despises them. But leaders wage the battle internally with statements like, “Did I practice enough…say the right things…network enough times…lose my focus…start too late?”

This is what losing is all about…the internal struggle. How you respond as a leader will determine whether you can turn your loss into a win. Losing is an art form, the smile, the withheld tears, the hug, and lingering long enough for the photo shoot. But there’s more to losing than in winning: the gain, the challenge, and the window.

The Gain. I’ve had numerous conversations with different elderly and very successful sages. A harmonious response that they all sound off about is that they’ve gained more from losing, than they have from winning. Sometimes winning is easy but when things fail that’s when the education is gained about the experience. An evaluation takes place, a new battle plan created, a new goal is set, and the victory is savored because of the loss…a win after a loss means much more than an initial win.

The Challenge. When we fail and fall flat on our faces, it is extremely hard to pick ourselves up, brush the dust off, and finish the race. However a leader will always finish at the finish line, and never before. There is no respect or honor for those that give-up and quit. Thus the challenge is whether or not we will allow the loss to control us, or whether we will control the loss. How many times have people become engulfed in a loss…never able to recover, and always waging the battle against someone or something besides themselves?

The Window. I have often times found that after each loss a window of opportunity is presented. Even though I lost three times, after each loss I was able to enjoy a win. My sophomore year, I became my school’s HOBY delegate. My junior year, because of my loss, I was able to run for and beat a senior for the Student Body Secretarial position. Finally, in my senior year, even though I lost my class election, I ran un-opposed for the Student Body Presidential position. I was never able to run again for my class VP, but because I gained so much from each loss, I would never hope to change them. What we learn from losing far outweighs what we can gain from winning. I hope Mrs. Clinton will gain as much as I did from my losses, making her loss a work of art.

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