Recently I’ve been thinking about mindset. Winners and losers from different perspectives specifically. Just about everything in life has a winner and loser in some fashion. Sports teams playing for a championships always yield a winner and a loser. Corporate employees up for a promotion either get it or don’t.
I used to think it wasn’t fair that I lost all of the time. I remember being 6 years old and never winning hide and seek because all of my friends could run faster than me. I’d find them, and they would run from me and make it to safe zone before I could tag them. I would cry because I didn’t understand why I never won.
In fifth grade I learned a lesson through humiliation as my gym teacher allowed me to be a team captain in floor hockey. This was exciting for me because I never got to be the captain before. The captain got to decide which person would play each position. The mindset I had at this time was negative, that I was a loser on defense. I never got to play certain offensive positions when we would play games. I was always stuck on defense because I wasn’t as good or as athletic as the other kids. That day I was captain I rotated myself through the various offensive positions.
Left Wing, Right Wing and Center. I selfishly took it upon myself to get revenge against my classmates. Near the end of class the teacher and ALL of the other kids cornered me and told me that I was selfish. They said they knew I would behave this way if given power. After all this happened I was then benched and not allowed to play for the rest of the week. I couldn’t believe this had happened, I didn’t understand why they thought I was so selfish. All I wanted to do was play the positions that I never got to play while others were in charge. I thought it was my turn. From my perspective what I had done was no different than what Matt M. and Mike T. had every day.
All I wanted to do was win, and to win I felt like a had to score. Now I understand that I could have won just by being part of the team and doing my part. I also didn’t understand that I wasn’t being played on offense because I just wasn’t that good. Not good because I was overweight, slow, uncoordinated and not committed to actually practicing and becoming good. It just wasn’t fair. I was wrong… these were the lessons that I needed to learn to get ahead in life.
Fast forward twenty five years and I’ve lost a lot. I’ve won a lot too. I learned a long the way that losing is important because it’s the best way to get better at whatever it is you are doing. Today at my daughter’s basketball game I watched she stood there, tugged at her jersey, let the player she was supposed to be guarding get around her and being afraid of the ball when it did come to her.
The game was a bloodbath. The final score ended up being 22-2, with the orange team coming out on top. I was listening to some of the other parents in the stands while my daughter took her place on the bench. Most everyone was having a good time and was excited that their kids were out there doing something.
There was one dad that was sitting behind me. He kept making comments about the winning team. He would say this isn’t fair, they are taller than our players.” “Oh look,they have all of their ringers on the court.” “Jeez coach, why don’t you give us a break?” I’m hearing all of this and start to laugh a little. I realized that I’m glad my kid is out there getting her ass handed to her. She will never get better without learning these lessons. When she came up and the end of the game I high fived her and said “good loss!” “What did you learn out there today” She said “I need to do a better job at guarding my player, and stop being afraid of the ball” I was one proud dad as I agreed with her.
I looked on at the man behind me as he left. He didn’t speak to his kid other than to say “let’s go” He looked disappointed and beaten down, like the world had just shit all over him. I thought to myself, I wonder what this man’s life is like outside of 5th grade girls basketball. I also wondered how his kids would turn out with this “go easy on us” mindset.
Changing your mindset to use losses to learn and get better.
My goal is to make sure that my daughter knows just how powerful losing can be. I think it’s great way to master anything you want in life.
My advice to anyone that wants is to get out there and do stuff. Lose, fail, fall down and get back up. Get better next time!
To quote the great inventor “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison