After watching my young sons lose yet another lacrosse game, I worried that they were not going to be too enthusiastic about the upcoming summer season. But I was wrong. Thanks to a good coach and healthy attitudes, they were able to celebrate the fact that they’ve improved greatly as a team, even if the win-loss record doesn’t reflect it.
Maybe I was projecting because I hate to lose. I can’t even let my kids win in Scrabble. I’ll happily beat them by 200 points and sleep soundly after I do. Not a nurturing attitude, is it?
It’s sometimes hard to shake the feeling that winning isn’t everything, but people who must win at all costs sometimes do dumb things – cheat, bend ethical guidelines, hurt others. I can honestly say I’ve never stooped that low, but I have been known to stay away from certain pursuits (think golf) solely because I’m not any good at them. It’s not that I’m ashamed or embarrassed by it. I just don’t find it any fun.
But there’s no doubt losing can teach you a few things:
- It can show you areas and skills you need to improve
- It can steer you away from things you’re not good at, and toward things you are good at
- It can remind you that you’re human – and that others are, too
The lesson I try to convey to my kids about winning is to celebrate, but be gracious about it. Don’t be arrogant, don’t talk trash, and don’t take success for granted. The difference between winning and losing is often one goal, and you can easily wind up on the other side of the equation.
Of course, winning feels better. I’m not denying that. But if you’re going to have a rich human experience, prepare to lose. But maybe only once in a while. And not at Scrabble.
What have winning and losing taught you? Post your comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.