With this article, I’m sharing a nice little concept about:

  1. Winning vs Losing

  2. Why Failure is Important

  3. What Actions to Take After

Participation trophies aside, I think it’s important to note, that with every setback, dip, or bump in the road, you should learn something. That’s why it’s okay to lose. That’s why losing is actually winning. Do you have big losses sometimes? Some that are irreplaceable? Absolutely.

Photo Credit: Max Bender

Photo Credit: Max Bender

After you accept defeat, that small win lies in how you grow from your experience. Story time:

I used to be pretty good at soccer. Now I’m washed up. But anyway, in high school I played for Maple Hill High School and we are very prolific in the sport of soccer in NYS. Many state titles and perennial Sectional Title winners in NY.

My senior year I captained a really good team that ended up going to the state championships. For much of the last half of the season we were ranked number one in the state for our class, and were having a dream season.

In the state Semi-Final, we played a team that was just as good as us, and on that day, they were better. We played through two overtime periods and eventually they broke through and scored the game winner late in the second period of OT. Game over.

Now, as crushing as that is, and was for myself and many of my teammates, I was comfortable with losing that day. We as a team battled hard and left it on the field. We had many chances that didn’t make it in the goal, and unfortunately it wasn’t our day.

As you may realize, life is not all sunshine, rainbows, and pots of gold. That’s what I learned that day. You can expect- but you aren’t entitled to victory. Sometimes, through all the bumps, bruises, and undying efforts you make towards your goals, it may not be enough.

That’s one day though. One lesson learned. My team lost that day, but did I really lose?

I’m using this to frame an experience in a different perspective. That’s all setbacks are. They are an unforeseen opportunity to learn, grow, and conquer. If we don’t take failure as this growth opportunity, it will be passed over. If you think back to your most difficult moments in life, I’m sure there are many that will strike you as really profound learning experiences. Their shaping ability cannot be understated.

Additionally, with health in mind, every day is a new opportunity to start over and apply new knowledge. For every goal you set, whether it’s to lose 35 pounds or learning how to barbell squat, your “failures” help lead you there.

Photo Credit: Anne Preble

Photo Credit: Anne Preble

Reflect, briefly.

Try to take out one lesson from each situation, and capitalize on that moving forward. Let's take the example of running a half marathon. You felt awful. No gas in the tank. Well, looking back at it you realize you didn't do a great job fueling or hydrating through the race. Not a huge deal now, but next race, pay attention to race day nutrition. Although you make want to dig a little deeper and over analyze, just find one thing to get better at. 

Move on, quickly.

Please do not dwell on the past. It will only lead to inaction, and that won't get you to your goals. In my book (click here), I reference a Kobe Bryant quote, where he says, "Everything negative; pressure, challenges, is all an opportunity to rise." (Kobe is the man.)

You cannot wallow in self pity for very long. Dust yourself off and view is as an opportunity, not a loss. This morning I burnt my sweet potatoes on the skillet- because I was trying to write this and cook breakfast at the same time. Oops. I still ate them, and next time, I'll have to keep the laptop out of the kitchen. 

Execute, often.

When we fail, we learn. From here, make sure to apply your knowledge. The only way we actually lose, is when we keep repeating the same pattern expecting different results. Knowledge will get you halfway there, but application is what gets you the win. Understand that there really are no failures or losses, only new chances to succeed and grow.