The hardest thing about winning is putting the losses behind you.
— Joe Torre
Winning in organized sports was important to me in my youth. It means less to me now– unless you view corn hole, Kan-Jam and recreational golf to be organized sports.
These days, I want to score for my wife and kids. I want to perform at high levels in my job. I want to excel in other key relationships. There are so many non-sporting aspects of my life where I work hard to be sure my best efforts are rewarded with success.
As a younger man, I wasn’t just losing…I was COMPLETELY lost. Following my graduation from high school, I remember trying to enlist one person to believe in me; unable and unwilling to recruit even myself.
Too often to chronicle here, I have lost in many significant ways. I’ve lost my parents and other important loved ones. I’ve lost emotionally, socially, financially, mentally and spiritually. I’ve lost credibility. I’ve lost interest. At times, I have lost my will and courage to stand out from the crowd. Isolated and feeling defeated, I have even been frighteningly close to losing my faith.
Different losses sting because of a profound regret over things I didn’t try… out of fear or a lack of personal rigor.
Regardless of the source, recalling my losses now is akin to having someone unexpected drop in for a visit, strolling uninvited within my consciousness. My memories of past failings coupled with my emotional response serve as a test, to see if I have put the disappointments into proper perspective. Gratefully, with the passage of time, I’ve noted that I’m getting better and not bitter. I’m finding that they don’t resurface to condemn me, but to coach me.
Now I choose not to shrink from the shadows that past setbacks might cast upon my present and future. Instead, I see failures contributing to the definition of my personal character; much like resistance training does for my body. Over time, they are toning and shaping me.
I no longer avoid talking about the losses. Pretending as if they didn’t happen only gives them power over me and drains my energy as I try to keep them hidden from view. Hiding my failures also prevents me from sharing what I’ve learned with others who might benefit from my life experiences. I’m finding that dealing effectively with setbacks is an acquired skill.
I’m shifting the attitude that I have towards losing. I’m not so paralyzed by the thought of failing these days. I realize the fact that I might win or risk losing means that I’m actually in the game and actively striving for things beyond my current grasp. Showing up and doing my very best is all that I can ask of myself.. no matter the outcome.
Now, when I am licking my wounds over some real-time loss or difficulty, it’s powerful for me to embrace the pivotal role that I play in reaching positive outcomes. This shift in responsibility gets me re-focused on mastering the hardest part about winning… getting past my past!
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!