In life, you will face challenges, encounter obstacles, and overcome hardships. To be honest, there will be times when life knocks you flat on your ass – times when you face being defeated. The same point can be made for just the opposite scenario. Life also has the ability to lift us up – times when we embrace adversity and ‘win’.
In both wins and losses, there are learning opportunities These experiences have the ability to contribute to the shaping of you into the person that you desire to be. What I find interesting is that your victories often focus on what you did that was ‘good’, or something that helped you achieve success. For example, if you perform well on a final exam in college, it could be attributed to the fact that you studied for the test. So, for future exams, you may utilize the same studying process. However, the question remains, ‘have you learned something long term, or did you merely remember something for the short term’?
On the other hand, what if you perform poorly on the exam… what if the grade you received is not what you were expecting or hoping? What if you realized that the poor performance could be attributed to the fact that you waited until the morning of the exam, and you merely skimmed your notes a few times through before taking the test?
I think the learning lesson here is that if you truly have a desire to be successful, then you will change something about your habits in order to help make you successful.
My point is that if you always win at what you do, then you never fully understand the areas of your life in which you need to grow. It is in these opportunities for growth that you have the ability to become better at what you do, more efficient at your work, and more prepared for the next challenge that you face. Sure it’s possible to learn from your victories, however, when you learn from your short-comings, you increase your awareness of how to perform something differently in the future in order to receive a different result than you previously did.
Think of the following scenarios that may apply to your life:
- Did you try cooking a new recipe and it turned out poorly? Did you learn what you could do better the next time?
- Did you struggle getting through a sales call? Did it make you think about how to re-frame your questions in order to get the information you were seeking?
- Did you attempt a fitness training program, but cut it short after only a few weeks? Did it make you think about how much time and effort would be needed to try again?
- Did you cause hurt in a relationship because of your words? Did it cause you to think how you could act differently with people in the future?
The list could continue with several other examples, but the point is that these moments of feeling defeated – feeling like you let yourself or someone else down – are the perfect opportunities to try something new with the intentions of receiving a better result.
“I Needed to Pick Myself up From the Mat”
Although I enjoy athletics, and physical sports, I will admit that I’m not a fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting. This type of event usually involves two people in an octagon-shaped ring who take swings at each other until the other person is deemed not capable of continuing in the competition. In other words, it’s boxing with a combination of various mixed martial arts disciplines. In the past couple of years, this sporting event (I’m not too sure what else to call it) has grown, and females are increasing their presence as participants.
Two years ago, one female MMA fighter, Ronda Rousey, suffered her first defeat at the hands of another woman. While I did not watch the fight, I did happen to catch a video of her being interviewed on the Ellen Show. Ronda shared with Ellen what the competition was like and how it made her feel afterwards. What grabbed my attention during the interview was the moment when Ronda said, “Maybe winning all the time isn’t what’s best for everybody.”
Ronda would continue by saying that even in the face of defeat, she needed to ‘pick herself up off of the mat’.
These quotes from Ronda speak volumes to anyone who is dealing with and managing adversity. I believe the point being made is that you don’t always have to win at everything we do.
It’s great to win the championship.
It’s awesome to always be in position for job promotions.
It’s exciting to never have the air let out of the balloon.
But, at the end of the day, do you think it would be a great learning experience to see and know how it feels on the other end? You might disagree, and I will admit that winning feels great. However, when I can reflect on my life, it was in the times that I ‘lost’ – moments when I was down and out – defeated if you will – when I learned the most about myself.
Even the Most Successful People Have Fallen in Order to Become Successful
In my mind, success is a subjective word, and it’s meaning arbitrary to the person defining it. However, I believe there is a common denominator between what you choose to do (in work, school, relationships, faith, etc.), how you define success, and whether or not you actually achieve the success that you would like to achieve.
The common denominator is called hard work. Achieving success isn’t easy. The road isn’t always flat. The burdens aren’t always light. And, along the road to success, even the best at what they do will sometimes trip. The best will fall – and to an extent – be defeated. As I was trying to think of an example to demonstrate this argument, I came across the following quote:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed.” –Michael Jordan
For those of you who have never heard of Michael Jordan is, he is arguably the greatest professional basketball player of all time.
Taking this quote a step further, I began to research the opposite of what those numbers represent. In other words, how many shots did Michael Jordan make, games did he win, and game winning shots did he make.
- Shots made – More than 24,000
- Games won – More than 1,000
- Game-winning Shots – 25, with one of the highest game-winning shot percentages in professional basketball history
In looking at these statistics, and keeping Jordan’s quote in mind, I find validity in that it was the moments of defeat that helped Michael to develop into a better player and to grow into a threat against opposing teams.
If you knew that you would succeed 24,000 times, but only after you failed 9,000, then would you think differently about always wanting to win? Would you be okay with knowing that no one likes to be defeated, but understanding that through defeat an individual is able to grow?
As much as I enjoy to win, I find myself thinking back on all the times that I didn’t meet the expectation – that I wasn’t ‘successful’. As bad as it may have felt at the time, it helped me become the person that I am today, ready and willing to see obstacles as learning blocks to hone a skill and grow as a person.
I’d be willing to bet you have an experience like this as well. Revisit this moment. Remember the principles it taught you, and use those ideas as guidelines for how to increase your chances of success, and ultimately have more ‘wins’. Continue on with the hard work and effort you have been putting forth. Respect the process. Have patience in the process. Most importantly, celebrate the process.
Did you enjoy this article? Check out more by visiting my blog, Embracing Adversity.