10 Reasons Why Losing Does Not Make You a Loser
My son came home from school last week feeling down. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he was selected as a judge for the school gymnastics competition that was held earlier in the day. I didn’t understand; it sounded like a fun way to spend the afternoon. What was the problem?
“I felt bad for the people who didn’t get an award or even a sticker. They tried really hard but they just weren’t as good as the people who won.”
Interestingly, the week before, he and his friends participated in our town’s Wearable Arts competition. Wearable arts are handmade art creations in a wearable form that push the boundaries of creativity. There were some truly spectacular creations in this year’s competition.
Now, for a moment, imagine the only all male team was a group of 5th-grade boys. They used cardboard, spray paint, most of my tin foil and all of my disposable cooking pans to create from their hearts and imagination. After they had worked tirelessly for the entire term with no help from parents or teachers, they were proud of their entry.
Then came the judging…
No award, no highly commended; they were crushed.
They put in their best effort and lost. Most adults know that’s a reality of life, but it’s still is a painful lesson no matter how many times the universe helps you learn it. When you do your best and put yourself out there, it does more than sting when you lose; it hurts no matter what your age.
After judging the gymnastics competition my son now had a new life lesson:
Even when you lose, it doesn’t make you invisible. There are people out there who see you and appreciate your effort even if they never tell you. They’ll also remember you.
I told him:
You had the courage to do something; others didn’t. Just like the kids in the gymnastics competition.
You all enjoyed the process, and that matters.
Even when you don’t win, people respect that you’re IN IT. You’re trying, and that’s never worthless.
In that moment, I swear I could see the lightbulb above his head start to glow. There was no shame in not winning wearable arts or the gymnastics competition. He was proud of everyone who tried, but they simply weren’t the best. It didn’t change the way he saw them as human beings. There were no scarlet “A” letters handed out to the people who lost or crowns for the winners. Despite how he felt and what he told himself, he was not a loser and if you fail, you’re not a failure.
I think we all know what it’s like to lose when you wanted to win.
Maybe it was a promotion or a big sale that you were inches away from closing. Or perhaps you didn’t get an offer for a new job or your small business was a flop and fold. Every time you lose, no matter the circumstance, it hurts because when you go all in, no holding back, it feels personal. You’ll second guess and wonder where you went wrong or if you could have done more. Unfortunately, or maybe it’s fortunately, time only moves forward.
Ten Reasons Effort is Never Worthless – Even if You Lose
You set your bar.
You now have an opportunity to get better.
You know and don’t need to waste time wondering “what if.”
You can’t win if you don’t put yourself out there and try.
You inspired others who were too afraid today to give it a go in the future.
You raised your hand, and people noticed.
You challenged yourself.
You were courageous.
You can use what you learned to reach higher and go further next time.
You cared enough to go all-in.
A gold star doesn’t identify you as a person of value, and the road to success is paved with far more losses than wins. Be grateful you’ve got one more behind you and are one closer to where you want to go.
What’s your experience with trying and falling short?
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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