Yogi Berra once said losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.
Late January our agency lost a bid for a project we were positive we would win. It was upsetting and frustrating. Losing in business can bring up all kinds of emotional triggers for me. I can start questioning my ability, my creativity and my vision.
But business is a game of winning and losing and for those of you who have followed my career you would probably agree there has been more winning than losing, but it is the losing that I tend to focus on the most. Why do I do this when it makes me feel bad?
Here’s why Yogi was right! With each “beautiful no” I have found a new depth of patience and persistence that I had no idea existed inside me. With each rejection, I have an opportunity to show my team what resilience looks like. With each follow up conversation we have with a client to find out how we could have shown up better, we learn how to show up better!
Let me be clear, I’ f’ing HATE losing. I can become outraged when we don’t win. But when that moment passes (sometimes quicker than others) and when the smoke from my ears clears, I look for the lesson in the loss. Here are a few:
I am not alone — People as big as Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Willie Nelson had lost everything at one point in their careers. Now they are household names that changed the world for the better. This motivates me.
Look at it differently — Losing, if looked at the right way, can be just the dose you need to know when to let go of something, change your path, or recalibrate.
Shine a light on where you can be stronger — If you review the why in your losses and strengthen your weaknesses, new opportunities will arise. In sports no game has ever been lost the same way.
Humble pie can still be sweet — Losing challenges us and keeps us humble. It teaches us there are others who are better. The emphasis should be on getting motivated to be better.
In closing, losing happens, sometimes life isn’t fair, and these inequities can drain our energy for much longer than they need to. Often, it’s the fear of failure that does most of the draining. Just remember, one chapter doesn’t define you. Wins and losses are both a part of the human experience, and the keys to self-improvement lies inside how we ride the waves of both.