“When we win, nothing hurts; when we lose, everything hurts.” 1
Isn’t that true? When people pause to think about the losses in their lives, the memories aren’t pleasant. Instead, they bring back emotions that seem to fit better in the back of a junk drawer rather than framed and mounted on the wall.
In John Maxwell’s newest book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn (Center Street, October 2013), we’re reminded of the opportunities that lie before us when we lose. In the moment, it can be difficult to see past the loss. However, long term, winning isn’t everything, but learning is. Turning losses into learning opportunities requires that we first understand why losses hurt so much.
1. Losses Cause Us to be Emotionally Stuck
“Anxiety and fear are debilitating emotions for the human heart. So are losses. They can weaken, imprison, paralyze, dishearten, and sicken us. To be successful, we need to find ways to get unstuck emotionally.” 2
When we fail, it’s easy to fall into a trap of what-ifs, wondering how you could have won if only you did “this” or “that.” This pattern drains us with more what-ifs and weighs on our hearts. If we can learn to overcome and move on, our losses can turn to learning opportunities.
2. Losses Cause Us to be Mentally Defeated
“Too often losing goes to our heads. It defeats us and we have trouble coming up with solutions to our challenges.” 3
In order to be successful, we must learn to manage disappointment instead of building it up in our heads. While we must aim for our goals, we also should train for losses, as we will face many of them over the course of our lifetime.
3. Losses Create a Gap Between I Should and I Did
“However, losing can also create a cycle in our lives – a negative one. Losses, especially when they pile up, can lead to insecurity. When we are insecure, we doubt ourselves. It causes us to hesitate when making decisions. Even when we know what we should do, we are reluctant to do it.” 4
No one wants to fail – and when we do, we are in danger of falling into traps of avoidance. We avoid making decisions, taking action, and learning. In order to succeed, we must show courage to move past those traps and bridge the gap from knowing to doing. Taking the first step always gets you back in the game.
4. The First Loss Often Isn’t the Biggest Loss
“When we experience a loss, we have a choice. If we immediately respond to it the right way, the loss becomes smaller to us. However, if we respond the wrong way, or we fail to respond at all, that loss becomes greater.” 5
When we lose, we also lose self-confidence. Don’t avoid the issue, thus making the loss bigger than it is. In fact, there is a good chance more, and potentially bigger losses, are coming down the pipeline. As leaders, we must address the loss, learn from it, and move on.
5. Losses Never Leave Us the Same
“Losses change us. But we must not allow them to control us.” 6
If we allow negative experiences of our past to control our future, we’re asking for limitations and discouragement. Each of us will experience loss in a different way, but we must all let go of their emotional grip and look to the future for new opportunities.
Each of these 5 reasons highlights why loss can be so difficult. It’s no secret that no one wants to lose, but knowing that we all will experience failure in some ways allows you to take risks. It’s important to remember, “you can choose to change, grow, and learn from your losses.” 7
Those are daily choices. Today, we’d love to hear about a time that you made the choice to learn from a loss!
Share your learning story in the comments below to enter to win a signed copy of Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.
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1 Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 7
2 Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 10
3 Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 11
4 Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 12
5 Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 13
6 Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 15
67Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, Center Street, pg. 16