Take the Loss

Lincoln, Nebraska
The game was over. Steaming with anger and refusing to admit it was the right call, he charged towards the referee, who was talking to an opposing coach. His fist crashed into the right side of the referee’s face causing his knees to buckle as he fell backwards. His head hit the turf, knocking him out cold. Oblivious, the coach delivered several more blows to his face before security restrained him and the cops arrived to arrest him.

The athletic director fired him later that night.

Fort Worth, Texas
The finals this year once again pitted both schools against each other. To add to the intrigue, a new judge was added to the panel this year and, after some internet sleuthing, a Ryland mother discovered the new judge had a second cousin who graduated from Clear Springs. Understanding this was by no means a conflict of interest, she filed it away just in case.

After a flawless routine by Clear Springs, it was Ryland’s turn to wow the crowd and make a case for their fourth straight championship. Towards the end of the routine, one of the cheerleaders slipped after landing a backflip. Luckily it was in the back of the formation and the crowd — and perhaps the judges — didn’t notice. A standing ovation ensued and it was in the hands of the judges.

The crowd was quiet as the winner was announced: Clear Springs had won the national championship by the slimmest margin ever and Ryland’s reign had come to an end. Angry Ryland parents stormed out of the arena and expressed their frustrations on social media.

The next day, a Facebook group was created by Ryland parents accusing the judges of outright fraud in their decision. While the scores by individual judges weren’t released, there was speculation that the judge — whose second cousin graduated from Clear Springs — had swayed the other judges into declaring Clear Springs the winner. No hard facts were presented to support the theory, but the online chatter attracted the attention of the Cheer Association. An investigation was conducted but no evidence of tampering was found.

A group of Ryland parents did not accept the findings and began an online harassment campaign against the judge in question. In response to numerous nasty messages and threats, she deleted all of her social media and resigned as judge. The parents celebrated their ‘win’ but the Cheer Association immediately implemented a one-year ban on Ryland from competing at nationals. The Ryland cheer team members were devastated and ashamed of their parents for taking it too far.

Santa Clarita, California
“It’s clear we are going to lose the election tomorrow,” his campaign manager warned.

“So, what can we do to counter that?” asked the Mayor, his team looking bewildered.

“What do you mean?” responded the campaign manager.

“I mean, if I’m going to lose the election, we should just question the legitimacy of the results. Put doubts in the minds of the voters that their votes were counted. We could then fight it in the courts and maybe we get lucky with a sympathetic judge. My mother didn’t raise a loser.”

“I like this play,” remarked his chief strategist. “There were new voting machines installed for before this election. I can do some research on the company who makes them, find some dirt. Then we go public with it and sell the narrative in the press. It just might work.”

“Let’s do it,” urged the Mayor.

The preceding stories illustrate what I believe is a growing problem in America: understanding that it’s okay to take a loss. Hardly anyone wants to admit they lost fair-and-square nowadays. Instead of feeling the pain of a loss and using it to get better and improve, instead we question the results, attack others, and deny our own weaknesses.

We’ve forgotten the price of success is failure. Any world-class athlete or successful figure will tell you their path to the top was littered with failure after failure. The pain associated with these failures made them who they are today — and they wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Politicians refusing to admit defeat. CEOs attempting to discredit whistleblowers. Governments covering up atrocities. Parents refusing to admit their children don’t have world-class talent. A man denying the DNA results showing he is the father. The list goes on and on.

Here are some ways that taking the loss can be good for you:

#1 More can be learned from a loss than a win

When you take a loss, you are forced to recalibrate and figure out what went wrong. This is a critical ingredient for growth and improvement. When you are preoccupied with denying the loss, your mind isn’t receptive to discovering how you can get better and turn it into a win next time.

#2 You will earn the respect of your peers

People who take a loss with grace earn respect from the winner(s). It takes a strong and confident person to admit defeat and congratulate the opponent. Put yourself in the shoes of the opponent for a moment. When you question the legitimacy of their win, you have insulted and spoiled the win for them. They are then forced to go on the defensive against your accusations instead of celebrating the win. How would you feel if you had won and they did the same to you? You would be upset and the thrill of the victory is quickly replaced by bitterness and disappointment.

#3 You can course correct

There are times when taking a loss results in deep soul-searching, which can benefit you in numerous ways. Perhaps it’s time to give up a sport, change jobs, or embark on a new career. Accepting defeat and determining how to proceed can be the launching pad to even greater heights. Michael Jordan failed rather famously when he gave up basketball for a career in baseball, a sport he loved as a child. Upon returning to basketball, he was hyper-focused and more determined than ever. His failure in baseball set the scene for his basketball comeback, which resulted in his second three-peat.

Don’t be afraid to take the loss. Embrace it, learn from it, let it become a part of you. Then use it as fuel to reach even greater heights.

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