The Value of Winning in Losing

Athletes are always told to possess that old cliche of a “winner’s mentality”. NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird famously went into the NBA’s Three-Point Contest and said to the competitors, ”So who’s coming in second?” You don’t have to be that confident, but you also don’t want to tell yourself that you’re going to lose. You don’t always have to “play to win”, but I don’t think anyone is playing to lose.

Whether it be in sports, on an exam, at your job or even beating someone to a parking spot. There is an overall good feeling in winning, but what do we learn from it?

It can be difficult to see where we need improvement when we come out with a positive result. Coaches say all of the time, “It was ugly, but a win’s a win.” There isn’t much room for growth in a win.

When I ran Division III Track and Field, I competed in eight races my freshman year. I won them all except for seven of them. Every time, my coach would meet me at the finish line and once I caught my breath we would quickly go over the race. That next week in practice, I would always have something to focus on or something to learn. It might’ve been race strategy, running mechanics and even running through the (correct) finish line.

I lost a lot of races that year. But losing that much made my first win feel so much better. The Chicago Cubs went through years and years of losing until they won the World Series last year. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title last year after much losing. Losing makes any win feel like the greatest victory.

It’s not always so good to “move on” from a loss. It’s supposed to get at you a little bit. The lessons learned in a loss are so valuable to a person. It tests your confidence and it may drive you to do better. It’s serves as a great reflection tool to allow you to take a look at where you are.

Performing poorly on an exam may drive you to study more for the next one (or actually study). Missing out on that “Employee of the Month” could entice you to work harder that month. Losing a game or match may motivate you to train harder and come more prepared. The bar gets set at a higher standard after a loss. You’ll always have something to reach for. It will hurt for a bit, but then you’re on your way to do what you can to gain a better outcome.

You won’t always ace an exam. You won’t win every game. You’ll still lose that parking spot from time to time. But “you’ll get it next time.

-Dallas Taylor

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