“It’s not whether you win or lose… until you lose.” – heard from CJ, circa HS senior year.
I’ve been through my fair share of battles in life. I’ve had some convincing wins against such challenges and confrontations, but I’ve also suffered humiliating defeats. All along, I believed that winning or losing was just a matter of pride or ego among the main protagonists. All along, it would be easy to deal with winning and losing in games, in real challenges and in our existence. All along, I thought that it’s not the victory or the loss that matters, but the lessons learned from the challenge.
Until I tasted really bitter defeats.
When you lose, it’s not just about what was at stake that was lost. When you lose, part of you that you put in your undertaking is lost. Whether it was time, effort, six months worth of training, the motivation of winning a medal or a trophy, or a lifelong friendship with someone, losing takes that much from you, and mind you, these are not things that are a-dime-a-dozen. No one person can easily replace that all-out graceful dance you give to clinch the cheering competition, that intense moment of shredding guitar strings during battle of the bands, making 27 points out of your team’s 30 in the championship game only to lose by four, or passing the difficult entrance exam only to get kicked out in the end.
When you lose, you lose something that can be more valuable than what was at stake.
And that is why we people almost always get up after defeat. Because that’s the bigger challenge. We think that each loss, each defeat is a low that can’t get any lower and that there’s no way to go but up. We look up because we were up there once. And if it should mean losing our best to get where we want to be, we’d give up all that we can, because we just want to rise up and higher each time, until we can touch our skies – the success that we are all yearning for.
When I’m close to giving up, I read the words of Michael Jordan in that Nike advertisement that basically sums up his legendary run as an NBA player:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
The secret to flight.