Sunday, November 6, 2011

Losing and lessons learned

Ray Charles addressed this issue about as well as can be addressed in his song Born to Lose.. One of the truisms of life is that we are all going to lose sometimes. In fact every time someone wins then someone else loses. As parents I believe that our primary function is to build up our children to believe that they are winners. Then we must build that concept so high and deep that when they lose, which they surely will, that they still believe that they are winners.

We are fortunate if we have someone who believes in us. That is the role of a Mother I think predominantly. I believe that there is a bond between child and Mother that is like no other. A Mother accepts and nourishes her child no matter the shortcomings of her life's creation. Is that always the case? No, not hardly. There are many people who give birth in an act of misgiving over bad choices. They then spend the rest of thier lives resenting and disavowing that child. The child fights an uphill battle in trying to amass some feelings of self esteem. Many times serendipity provides a collateral artery of life giving affirmation. It could be a coach, a friend, a church congregation, a spouse, a cause, etc. There has to be something occur in the life of every human being that resonates with the idea that they are important to someone. They are a winner.

I watched Alabama play LSU last night. It was a very entertaining game. Alabama lost in overtime. No one scored a touchdown. It was a clearly defined, oldtime defensive battle. Both teams made mistakes. The mistakes were magnified because of the lack of scoring. I was intrigued by how the coaches stood up for the players on both teams. Les Miles, the winning coach, bragged on his players and the opposing teams players. Nick Saban, the losing coach, bragged on his own players and the LSU players. Is it a possibility that successful coaches mirror the nurturing nature of a successful Mother? It would be hard to carry that analogy too very far.

When we lose at anything there are lessons to be learned. We miss out on a job we want. We don't get accepted to a particular school. We don't get the promotion at work. We get the crap kicked out of us in a particular form of competition, golf, tennis, bridge, chess, a beauty contest, and so forth. It is hard to isolate the lessons in losing.

Losing teaches us to be humble. Humility is a valuable lesson. The other side of humility is arrogance. Arrogance is more of a negative factor for living than losing on occassion. We have all met people who are not gracious losers. They are numbered amongst those who are embittered and brooding personalities.

Losing also teaches us that we need to train harder. If you lose a marathon with a lousy time then you know if you ever want to win you need to train harder. If you lose consistently at golf becaue you cannot putt, then you need to practice putting until your back hurts. If you consistently miss the business as a salesman then you need to work on your closing skills, presenting skills or get out of the business and become a mortician.

You can bet that Alabama is going to go out and recruit the very best kickers they can find for the upcoming seasons. I suppose that the definition of a loser is someone who does nothing after they lose. Becoming a winner is a proactive pursuit and requires a lot of help along the way. That help comes from people who, for one reason or other, chooses to believe in you.

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