By Larry Schuster
Last year, I really expected to win a local speech contest. I thought about it for months. I had won the same contest the year before, and then went on to win it at the national level. So this latest local speech contest should be no big deal. I thought I could do even better in this latest round of contests.
I had a good excuse. At the time, I had recently left the hospital after treatment for a serious illness, and I had not yet recovered all my energy. So I was shaky on the stage, while my opponent was fiercely focused.
But still, I was depressed and very embarrassed by that loss. I wanted to win. As I saw it at the time, it was “mine.” Well, of course, it wasn’t mine. But that was my feeling about it, because that was part of my plan, part of the story I told myself about the future.
Finally, I recovered, and several weeks later, as it turned out, I realized that loss meant I could test out a new speech in front of 500 people. If I had won those contests, I could not have had that opportunity. It would have been impossible. And it turned out to be an amazing experience.
Looking back, that speech experience in front of 500 people was much more meaningful than that contest. The speech was not perfect, but parts of it were the best I had ever done, and gave me new confidence about the next step of my public speaking career.
In other words, by accepting a painful loss, I became a big winner.
It made me think of other times, when there were jobs, opportunities, potential girlfriends -- and they should have been “mine!” But I lost them. Looking back it was very likely that some of those “opportunities” would not have been a good idea.
Have you ever had that experience? Or maybe you are still struggling with something you feel should be “yours.” But if things don’t go your way, is it possible you would actually be a winner? By walking away from those disappointments or struggles, might you be able to find a way to turn that perceived loss into an amazing win?
Wouldn’t it be a more graceful world if that were so for all the times that people confront a painful or a perceived loss? Losing at something you care about or care for doesn’t make you a loser. It may be that the loss allows you to become a winner beyond your expectations. To get from loss to a win, maybe, just maybe it’s a matter of rewriting that story in your head… to plan for an amazing win.
Sometimes by losing, you win.
Senior Consultant, Crescendo Communications Consulting