I’ve had a crazy schedule lately, so we missed a weekly thought last week, but I’m back in the saddle this week. Today, after my boys’ t-ball team won the league championship, and my boys were both selected to play in the all-star game, I ended up in the middle of conversation amongst parents who disagreed with having a champion, and selecting all-stars, at such a young age. One father said, “all the kids are all-stars. They’re all champions. This stage should be all about learning the game, not winning and losing.” And I can see his point, and understand his position, to an extent. However, my reply was “true, they should be learning, but they have learn to win well, and how to lose well. In life, there are winners and losers. They need to learn that reality.” He said “ya, ok. But aren’t they a little young? What age does that lesson come along at?” And I said, “as soon as they’re coherent.” And please don’t think I’m being harsh, or being a hot shot. I am sensitive to my boys’ feelings when lose or don’t get chosen for the team they want to be on. But regardless of their age, I capture the opportunity to teach them to lose well. I make sure they know that their value and identity is never determined by whether they’ve won or lost, but also that losing is as much of a reality and a necessity as winning. The title of John Maxwell’s book says it all: “Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you Learn, with the word “Lose” crossed out and the word “Learn” in place of it.
The transition toward having every kid be a winner so that we won’t hurt their feelings, could ruin our future. Some youth sports don’t even keep score anymore because they don’t want the kids to feel the disappointment of losing. Whether we’re 3 years old, 30 years old, or 103 years old, losing is a reality. Those that learn to lose well, and learn from their loss, are the ones that truly end up winning in life. Henry Ford failed more than once in developing the Ford automobile and launching Ford Motor Company. You’d never know it now as Ford has become one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world, with just shy of 2.5 million vehicles sold in 2013. When he faced reality of his 3rd failure, and going broke again, Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. This time, more intelligently.” In other words, “get better, and begin again”. The same true of losing. Whether you’ve lost a game, lost position, lost status, lost money, lost an opportunity, or lost a relationship, you get to choose: will I quit, or begin again? Will I get better, or bitter?
So, my hope this week is to inspire you to re-think winning and losing. If you have kids, teach them to find advantage in their adversity, and learn to lose well. And whether we have kids or not, let’s all get better at viewing our failures through the eyes of Henry Ford: as “opportunities to begin again. This time, more intelligently”. You win some, you learn some.