Learning How To Lose

I have had the incredible privilege of watching my grandson’s high school football team play an undefeated season this year. Their victories took them all the way to the state championship game, where they ended up losing in the final match.

To say losing this game was hard, would be an understatement. I stood in the stands as the realization of loss spread across all of us. I saw tears of sadness on the field as heartache settled into the faces of these boys who gave their all for 14 games. I watched as players and coaches hugged and encouraged one another that even as they lost the game, they had a hell of a season and they should hold their head up high.

Losing With Grace

Looking on the field even in that loss, I saw only winners.

They lost with grace and humility. They lost with the resolve, and determination this wasn’t their year to win, and they would be back again next year.

As I stood watching these boys come to terms with the results of the game; I found myself wondering why we adults can’t be more like them.

Why is it we have such a difficult time losing graciously?

From sports to elections, insults and belligerent comments fill our social media feeds, announcing disdain and disgust for those who have won or those who have supported the winners.

Sometimes the best thing to do when we lose is accepting the results, go back to the drawing board and adjust the playing field to grab the win next time. Continuing to spew hate and contention will do nothing to change the outcome of winning results, but it can reveal who we really are in our day to day interactions with one anther.

“Winning and losing are both very temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move ahead. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still.” Chuck Knox

How we handle losing can reveal our true character.

  1. To lose gracefully is a more prominent and respectable way of representing yourself than a pouting sore loser. I get it; no one likes to lose. I certainly don’t. But how I handle myself in a win or a loss speaks volumes in the message I am trying to share. The recent elections have brought out a side of friends and family I didn’t know was there. The losing side fills my Facebook feed with contempt while the winning side gloats in their victory. Is it any wonder our schools are dealing with bullying at an all time high level? If we as adults can’t figure out how to get along, how can we ever expect our kids to? But that is another blog.
  2. Losing with poise humbles us to seeing what we can gain from the experience. In every situation in life, I get to choose how I react to life. I have a dear friend who lost her husband before she was 40 and then a few years later lost her oldest son. Those two tragedies could have changed her into a bitter, angry person and no one would deny she had every right to choose that route. And while I know it has been a dark, heartbreaking path, she has come through it with more grace and dignity than anyone else I have ever met.
  3. Losing doesn’t mean we quit trying; it means we learn from the loss and try again. I can be a sore loser and look for any reason as a to why I was robbed, or I can look at the situation and see what adjustments I need to make for a different outcome the next time I take on the challenge.

As I drove home from the state championship game this weekend, I found myself thinking about the lessons these young men have been taught the past 14 weeks. They have carried themselves well in the 13 victories they had this year.

But with their first loss this season, at one of the biggest games they have faced since 1999, the most important thing they have shown is that winning doesn’t always mean you bring home a trophy to place in the school hallway.

Sometimes the real winner is found in how you handle the loss.


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