I have hundreds of books in my library about how to win, how to achieve your goals and how to attract whatever you want in your life. No one really ever talks about how to lose.
Let’s face it. We all have times in our life when things don’t go as we planned. We don’t always come out on top. How do we deal with these disappointments? How do we stand up, dust ourselves off and walk with our head held high when we feel like moving to another country and changing our name?
Recently, I experienced what I would consider a loss. I registered for a state fitness competition with a group of girls from my gym. Competing in a fitness show was on my bucket list and I wasn’t getting any younger, so I dove right in. I followed my diet and workout religiously, sacrificing a few of the basic comforts in life such as food and water. When the contest day arrived, I felt as if I had given 110% and I would surely win or come close. I invited my whole family and told all my friends about my contest. I was in deep.
After my turn to showcase my hard work, I was on stage with the other women in my age group (the fabulous 40s) for the awards ceremony. I was smiling from ear to ear as I anticipated the results. Then I heard my name called first which meant that I had received fourth place. It sounds like a huge accomplishment, however, there were only 4 women in my group. I had actually placed last. I was shocked, sad, disappointed, embarrassed and a little mad.
I wanted to say that I winged it and didn’t really try my hardest. I wanted to say that I didn’t care. But that just wasn’t the truth. The way I saw it was that I had given everything and I just plain lost. My friend and family said the nicest things to me, like “at least you got up there”, and “you should have won”, but I was in a terrible space.
After I shed a couple of tears and blew some steam out of my ears, something amazing happened. I thought, I can either sit in the frustration of why it didn’t work or I can find a way to move through it. I began to look for my lesson. I searched for my hidden gift inside the experience.
When we win, we celebrate. We don’t go into contemplation about what we did wrong, we don’t analyze and re-analyze the situation. We relax. It has been proven that when things are going great, people don’t pray as often as they do when they are in a crisis. When the times are good, we spend and spend, not keeping track of what we are doing. When times are bad, we pay close attention to every move we make.
My loss is actually one of my greatest wins. I learned that giving 110% does not mean that I will win because there is always another level to reach. There will always be someone prettier, fitter, smarter, and , more talented than me. One person’s judgement is only an opinion, not the truth and it does not mean anything about who I am. I realized by examining my embarrassment that I was very concerned about what other people thought about me. That never seemed a big issue before. All these realizations were “aha” moments, real eye-openers that have changed me for the better.
In the car on the way to a baseball game last night, my son told me that he was nervous to pitch because his pitching had been so bad lately. I said, “Remember my show yesterday? I lost that race, however, I learned from it and I will just get better and better. And so will you. “. He smiled and went out to warm up his arm. I would never have had that opportunity if I had won the contest.
I won’t compete in a fitness show again, simply because I like food too much, and the bathing suit cost as much as my ipad! However, I will remember the lessons I learned and the feeling of accomplishment I got from setting a goal and achieving it.
Failure is our greatest teacher. When things go wrong, life has our full attention. So shake it off, breathe and re-focus. It is another lesson in the game of life. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win but each game makes you a better player.