The Upside of Losing

Our kids play hard. They win some, they lose some, but only measuring success by wins is a losing proposition. Just because you didn’t win doesn’t mean you failed.

Losing can be a gateway to develop success. Don’t squander the opportunity of a good loss.

When we console our children with default language such as, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” or “It’s only a game,” we isolate our children with their pain. It’s very confusing. They wonder, “If it’s only a game, why did I spend all of those hours practicing?” or “If it doesn’t matter, why do I have to study so hard?”

As we’ve learned from the greatest thinkers of our time, failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of success.

Discovering how to lose is the secret elixir to developing elite performance. Feel the loss, learn from the loss, but don’t carry the loss. Continuous improvement is only possible when we accept the initial pain of the setback and use that setback to explore new skills to try again.

It’s OK to lose, it’s OK to cry, but it’s not OK to blame someone else for that loss: “It was the referee’s fault,” or “It was the teacher’s fault.” Becoming the victim is unhealthy for both the participant and the parents, and it’s a sadly popular default script in our culture to manufacture false comfort by deflecting responsibility.

I see this script carry forward into adulthood. When people try to avoid failure they’re actually on the fastest track to mediocrity.

Embrace the fullness of life, including the loss. Suffering is part of losing. Suffering is a part of life. If we shelter our children from loss and suffering, we are insulating them from the experience of discovering their fullest potential.