My wife and I have a constant argument about my attitude on losing. She usually tells me and our friends that I hate to lose. She’s kind of right, but there’s more than just the emotion after losing a competition. It more has to do with how the game was played. I can remember vividly several times when our team won a game and I went away disheartened. It’s not the losing that bothers me so much. It’s the fact that when I lose it usually means that I didn’t give it all I had or that I just decided to be lazy. It also can be said that even when if I lose, if I played my best, then I’m pretty gracious about the whole thing.
Freedom Creates Competition
I’m not an expert on freedom … yet. But, what I’ve read and pondered leaves me to believe that two of the foundations for freedom is the right to ownership and equality or fair rules. When you sit down to play Monopoly, you start by defining what you own. At that point in the game, the answer is just money … and a thimble. Each player is graced with a certain amount of money and a list of rules that applies to everyone. If the banker was allowed $200 extra when they went around the board, the results would be skewed and thus the players, in essence, would not be free. Thus, when freedom reigns, there is, innately in everyone, the drive to succeed. With this drive to succeed, you then create competition. Without competition, there is no reason to get better, but when competition arises between two opposing forces, you are bound to have losers.
Competition Creates Losers
Losing is one of those lessons in life that must be learned in order to achieve greatness. I can’t think of a time when I’ve heard a success story in which there wasn’t some sort of aspect of losing. It’s a part of nature and should be looked upon as a milestone, not a destination. Losing usually has two different side effects; it can either cause feelings of unfairness or drive to succeed. Have you ever heard a press conference where the team or the coach blamed the referees for the outcome of the game? In essence what they are saying is that the game was not fair. However much truth there is to that, the other way to look at a recent loss is to own up to how the game was played. Once you start taking responsibility for your losses, you can also take responsibility for your wins as well. Losing has it’s good points too; it creates drive and ambition.
Losing Creates Ambition
A loser doesn’t walk away from a game with a trophy, but with some well-grounded insight and determination, a loser has the opportunity to evaluate strengths and weaknesses and improve on both. Without a healthy attitude towards losing, greatness can never be achieved. You have to continually keep a positive attitude and your “ant and elephant” pointed in the right direction. Otherwise, you can slide down the slope of self-pity and bitterness. By constantly looking ahead, your ambition can lead you back to the court and sooner than later … back to the game. However, in order to have ambition, you have to believe in freedom. Without freedom and believing that the rules haven’t changed and that there is fairness for everyone, you will become discouraged, or you’ll look for a handout because you were cheated.
Where Does God Fit in?
With Paul’s list of defeats in II Corinthians 11, he may be the best candidate to look at life and say that it’s not fair. The great thing about Paul, and what we should each take from his example, is that he trusted in a God who was fair and he didn’t look to his circumstances to determine success or failure. Paul, and we as Christians, believe in a God who cares for us, shows us mercy, and continually looks to build us up so that He can be glorified. Our successes, I believe, are based upon how hard we work for them. Being born into humanity and realizing that we come into this world separated from God is our first failure. Once we realize that Christ came to reestablish the relationship, our ambition kicks in and we start working for something greater than success … an appreciation for the life regained.
What do I do Now?
- Fight for freedom!
- Compete as hard as you can
- When you lose, take responsibility and get better
- Get back in the game and keep going