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Apr, 2021

You lost...Now What??

You lost…..what now, what does it mean? The choice is yours on how to respond in that important moment of time. Everyone claims that the tough times and times of difficulty is what made them into the person that they are today. So why would people be afraid of losing? Your goal isn’t to lose and you put in so much hard work and effort towards your goal and yes losing can come with a short term of mixed feelings such as: despair, failure, anger, and frustration, but in the long term losing doesn’t define you as a loser or failure. Some people don’t know how to handle a brief yet, character defining moment. Think about it, out of your whole life time that loss is nothing but a moment, just a sliver of time in your life. How you choose to respond will affect and show your character as well as how others perceive you. What will it do for you: Inspire, Drive, Destroy, Motivate, Hinder, or Encourage? People you don’t even know might find strength and motivation from your hardships in their own life, teammates could form stronger bonds of trust in times of need, or it can be the other side of the coin because you chose to throw a fit or tantrum and blame everyone else. You shouldn’t strive to lose but embrace the opportunity to grow and learn in that moment.

The truth is that no one is exempt from a loss. There have been some huge perceived gaffs that have led to some major losses in world of sports, but it is just a brief moment in time. Think about this year’s Super Bowl with Seattle at the 1 yard line with the championship on the line and throwing an interception and sealing a victory for New England, or at this year’s Women’s World Cup with England’s best defender putting in the game winning goal into her own net with less than a minute to play and clinching the game for Japan. You could come up with example after example, and these would just be from well-known events. This doesn’t include anything that happens at the youth level. Losses don’t discriminate. You aren’t the first to experience a loss and you won’t be the last to go through it.

So what is a loss? We define a loss as coming up short in a moment of time while in pursuit of something of perceived value. No one is exempt from a loss and at the same point, everyone in the world isn’t considered a loser. If no one is exempt from a loss and not everyone is a loser, than what does a loss do if it doesn’t make us a loser?
A loss provides an opportunity to show your character. Think about the image of metal being heated to show its impurities and then being formed into its purpose. Trials and hardships provide this opportunity to show our character as well as help shape us into our purpose, assuming we are strong enough to stand up to the heat. Metal that isn’t strong enough will be discarded and used for a lesser purpose or it will require more refinement. Now since a loss can be a hardship then it provides us the opportunity to show that we can handle the situation and the true nature of our character. If you handle a loss and hardship in a respectful manner, you will build internal strength to push you through future hardships. Additionally, others will see you as an inspiration, trustworthy, and as a pillar of integrity. On the other hand if you handle a loss in a less than a respectful manner such as; assigning blame to others, looking for excuses, throwing a temper tantrum, or even quit and walk out then you will be regulated to a lesser role and viewed as untrustworthy in the perception of others. This can be very troublesome if you are still pursuing sports. Success in team sports is dependent upon the bond you have with your teammates and coaches. If they don’t trust you then you won’t play or be called on in crucial situations. Many people will point to their hardships as life defining moments and come to be thankful for opportunities to turn them into the person that they are today. So see a loss for what it is, an opportunity to grow and learn.

Now you might ask if a loss can truly be a good thing, then why do parents try as hard as they can to protect their kids from a loss. There are two main reasons that can be derived from a parent’s desire and effort to avoid losing for their child, the first one is character exposure and the second is pain avoidance, which is misinterpreted as protection.
In a child’s life a parent is the main influence on their character development as well as the child’s moral and ethical beliefs. If a loss exposes character in a person, then for a child it will expose the parent’s influence on the child. A parent will feel their inadequacies as a parent will be on full display. People will go to great lengths to hide their perceived inadequacies. We say perceived because whether inadequacies really exists or not isn’t the important part but if the parent believes one exists that is the important part. People will drive their behavior off of perception.
The second misconception on the parents’ part is that they believe they are protecting their child through pain avoidance. Pain avoidance isn’t the same as protection, and all it does is build a false sense of confidence and delay the inevitability of a future loss. A false sense of confidence leads to a feeling of entitlement which still sets their child up for failure in life. Another truth in life is that nothing is given, it has to be earned. A child that feels entitled grows into an adult that feels entitled and when they learn that truth then the reality will hit a lot harder than if they would have experienced a loss earlier in life. So pain avoidance isn’t the same as protection, and actually causes more pain and hardship down the road.
These inadequacies and insecurities are internally perceived and might not be an actual reality, but since they are perceived by the parent than they are a reality to the parent. These insecurities are a vital component for spending behavior that has created a billion dollar plus industry. Parents will spend money on the best equipment, trainer, select team, or any gadget in hopes that all of these will prevent their child from losing.

Yes, teams and employers are going to want winners or someone that preservers. A winner is someone that has experienced losses and setbacks but grew stronger from them. Losses can make winners. A team or employer isn’t going to want someone that has never lost, because you can’t trust a person that has never lost their behavior and reaction is a mystery. Since losses are inevitable in life at some point, then you don’t know how a person that hasn’t yet experienced a loss will react when a setback happens. Will they be destructive and become a cancer to their team tearing everything down and making things weaker because they aren’t internally strong enough to handle a setback? It is a high risk to bring someone in with such a big question mark hanging over their head. This is a question that will come up and they will want to know about a loss and how you handled the situation. Discussing how you were able to bounce back and use the loss as a launching point will put you in a better light with your audience. Think about Aaron Rodgers dropping in the NFL draft with the cameras right in his face watching his reaction every time another name was announced. He sat there putting on the best face possible on the outside as I’m sure it was painful to take on the inside. He has used that experience as a launching point for his career and teams probably regret not taking him when they had the chance. So a loss or hardship can provide the opportunity to propel you to exhibit a winning attitude.

A loss shouldn’t be scary or seen in a negative light, but as an opportunity to display our internal strength and courage. Protecting kids from a loss only serves to ease a parent’s concerns but ends up being more harmful in the long run of life. Teams and employers want people of high character and winners. Winning alone doesn’t make you a winner just as losing doesn’t make you a loser. Hardships and losing are inevitable in life so how you handle it is what shows your character and what people remember about you. You lost………now what……..?

Dan Cowan M.S.Ed


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