Competition, winning and losing lessons

competitionIt is human nature to compete. It starts early. We hear statements from greats like Lombardi who tells us, “show me a loser and I’ll show you a loser”. We quickly learn that performance and the end result is paramount and losing is not for us.

I also grew up obsessed with winning and competing. I’d lose sleep over it, even “friends”. I figured a loss friend was someone just mad because of losing.  I understand the pit falls of loss and the highs of winning. I still want to win to this day. Yet, I’m more aware of the lessons from winning and losing.

When and why did we decide we could reverse a lifetime of competitive evolution and teach kids to now not compete? It’s part of the world and there is no changing it. No matter how society has tried to dumb down competition (trophies for all, “it doesn’t matter Sarah”, “we’re all winners” and so forth), competing, winning and losing all influence us.

We simply must compete. But we will not always win.

It is true that competition literally breeds excellence. However, there’s an ugly side to competition. We may be missing a lesson with each great loss. Someone once said, ”when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” So what are they?


Michael Jordan is one of the greatest winners of all time, yet how did he get that way? Besides hard work and some God given talent, Jordan suffered many heart breaking losses. Painful and bumpy often pave the road to victory. It is in the loss that growth digs it’s roots deeper.

Losing is temporary. Just like winning is and just like life is. In the context of time we can appreciate the fleeting nature of any loss and find the lesson.

Does your loss beat you down or fire you up? Rarely is it the raw talented kid that wins. It’s more about the one with a chip on their shoulder. The kid that has something to prove, most often to themselves.  Let loss spur you on. Let it be the hot fuel that challenges you and pushes you closer to your goal.

Best said by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

You must compete in this world. Winning and losing are both teachers. Learn from them.



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