What We Learn from Losing

Ed Thomas Coaching

posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013

Losses can be hard to take.  We tend to think incessantly about what we could have done differently and find it difficult to put losses behind us.  Losses can devastate us or propel us to work harder and achieve more.  How you handle defeat is much more telling and indicative of future success than how you handle winning.  One learns a great deal more about themselves, and in general, from losing than winning.

Coach Thomas did not like to lose, and losing burned inside of him.  Of all the practices any of his players attended, I would suggest that those that came after a loss were the most memorable.  Greater effort was required, the intensity was higher, the conditioning was extreme.  A loss was an opportunity to drive home the commitment to hard work that would be required to win.  He tested our character and pushed us to respond positively to the loss.  Often the losses spurred a great streak of winning based on the work put in after the loss.

I think the same rings true in daily life.  We often learn more from our losses and setbacks.  Those setbacks spur us to greater achievement in our endeavors.  How many failed experiments must an inventor conduct before he/she achieves their moment of success?  I suggest it is many.  Of note is that an inventor learns much from his/her failure and seeks to correct the deficiencies in order to achieve the desired result.  Lest one believe that persistent losses create great wisdom, the lesson is that persistence in the face of losses is what spurs the achievement.

The key to handling a loss is ones response to it.  Analyze it, understand it, and seek the way to improve and prevent a future loss in the next contest.  Perhaps one needs to work harder, perhaps a different application of a tried and true principle, perhaps a revision to the plan, perhaps a different choice at some point in the contest.  Whatever it is, there is a way to respond that results in greater character, greater effort, and a greater opportunity to be victorious in the next attempt.

Coach Thomas understood that his greatest opportunity to instruct those in his charge came in the aftermath of a loss.  Not that he had that in mind at any time, but having the ability to turn the negative experience into a positive advantage was essential to his methods and strategy.  Where have you lost recently?  How can you take that negative experience and turn it in to a positive advantage?  What did that loss reveal about you and your actions?  How will you achieve a win in the next contest?