Nobody likes to fail. At the moment of failure, it feels horrible. You replay your actions, what could you have done differently, how were you not prepared, you should have tried harder…
The recent phenomenon of participation awards, and children’s sports not having a winner or loser seems to be a generation of parents attempt to spare their children of the heartbreak of failure, but is that really what is best for the children? Is failure really that bad?
Humans tend to have a very limited view of their life, as much as we worry about the future, we tend to prefer instant gratification over delayed gratification. Losing is a sort of delayed winning.
When you win or succeed or something, there is little to gain. You won the game, great. You got the job, great. Those are the goals, but it is easy to become complacent upon achieving those goals. When you lose, on the other hand, you reevaluate yourself and try to find the areas where you can improve.
When I was in high school, I auditioned for Orchesis (a dance group) all three years in which I was eligible. I did not make it the first two years, but we were able to see how the judges scored us in various skills, so I recorded my scores, made special note of the lowest ones, and spent the year until the next audition working to improve that skill. The third year, I made the group. I still have those scores today (along with scores from other dance auditions in high school) (Yes, I was and am a horrid speller and did not learn to spell Orchesis correctly until sometime in my junior year…in my defense, we called ourselves you spell the whale “orca” and that was our mascot).
So while I was devastated that I did not make the group the first two years, the failure drove me to improve myself.
There is was a Disney show that I liked (yes, I watch Disney channel…get over it) in which they had a very competitive character take issue with a younger character that received a participation trophy. When I first saw this episode, I thought, “great, they are addressing the issue,” but they made it more about enjoying the game than winning or losing.
Yes, you should enjoy games you played, but that does not mean you cannot also win or lose. Instead of teaching people that no one wins or loses, we should be teaching people how to win and lose with grace, and how to appreciate a loss and learn from it. The next time you fail to achieve something, instead of wallowing in the failure and submerging yourself in the negativity of it, think about what ways you can improve yourself so that the next time you are in a similar situation, you have a chance of doing better.
Also, the next time you win and something, be respectful to those who have lost, and again…think about the ways you can improve yourself, because just because you won this time, does not mean you will win the next.