Winners are beginners

Do you mind losing?

If you want to be a winner, you have to learn to lose. That is what this series about Winning is for losers is about: learning to lose so you can be a true winner.

In this third and last article in the series, we’ll concentrate on what losing can tell you about winning. We’ll give you the recipe true winners use to cope with failure, and how they improve each time after they have lost. You will be a winner too if you follow their example.

A miss is as good as a mile?

In our society, we are educated with the idea that it’s all about winning. As the saying goes: A miss is as good as a mile. It means being close to success isn’t good enough, and therefore irrelevant. It is still a failure.

But is it? If you could let go of the overpowering idea that it’s all about winning, then you would be able to observe that losing allows you to identify the causes that can be modified and allow you to improve. Suddenly a ‘miss’ becomes something that can actually help you on to reach your goal.

A ‘miss’ can give you valuable information on how to improve yourself. Once you know what it is that causes you to fail, you are able to stop this. Your focus is on improvement, instead of on the fact that you missed or failed. This is why true winners are always beginners.  What do they begin with?

Losing is an opportunity to learn Click To Tweet

Winners always begin with accepting that loss is a fact of life. They know that failure means what you make of it.

By accepting loss as a fact of life, it becomes feasible to learn to deal with it in a positive way. This means you see losing as just an opportunity to identify the causes of failure and to modify them.

You break down the process of your action in all its parts. You improve those parts of your actions that caused failure the last time you tried. This process is repeated as long as necessary. The cumulative effect of each marginal gain you make is revolutionary.

The imperative is the willingness to look for your personal weaknesses. These you only find out by losing. You lose where you are weak. This is precisely where there is an opportunity to become better.

To admit that you are not good at certain things is the beginning of learning. It is also the beginning of winning. To be able to follow this kind of trajectory, the narrative you live by should be empowering. This means you don’t make failure personal. If you fail, you don’t fail. If you fail, your action needs improvement. Nothing more.

Prepare yourself to lose

Of course the proposition to lose is not an easy one to embrace. The fear of loss is a kind of ‘self-poisoning by adrenaline’ – nature preparing you to fight or flight[1]. You feel exposed and need protection.

It is a purely physical reaction that won’t occur when you prepare yourself to lose. The preparation is a mix of a rationally designed process, plus learning to maintain inner peace in the face of possible loss.

Choose a goal you want and set out a trajectory. Explore it. Assess what needs to be improved and how to make the right decisions and sustain them.

Then prepare yourself to lose by establishing how you cope with losing in your thinking, speaking, and acting. Once you have established this, treat it as you would any other cause of failure. Determine where you can improve by small, safe steps.

Next, choose a doable next step towards your goal and build up new personal evidence about your ability to act. This will be evidence that ‘losing’ is part of the game, and only means you have the opportunity to improve the next time you try. Each time you try, you begin again.

Winners are beginners

This is the recipe:

  1. Chose a goal you truly want.
  2. Where you are (where else could it be?) take a next step towards that goal.
  3. It must be a step that is safe for you to make. Design safety in the process. (See the 2nd article in this series, Failure teaches success)
  4. Learn from your losses what you need to improve.
  5. Keep on ‘failing better’ ( See the 1st article in the series: Winning is for losers) until you reach your goal.

Failure in this process will be exactly what it needs to be. It teaches you what you need to learn in order to accomplish your goal.

When you are able to sustain this process, you have become fault tolerant. This makes you a loser who cannot fail to win – because you are willing to begin again until you have won.

You win each time you begin again

Losers that have learned to be fault tolerant are winners because they are beginners. They know in their heart that you can always think again, speak again, do again and this time better. You win each time you try again.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

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[1] The New Yorker August 3, 2015 I can’t go on by Joan Acocella.

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