How to Lose


Yesterday, our son told us that he always wins when he races his father.  He said that made him the best.  Even though he is five years old and even though the concept of my response won’t resonate with him for years, I took the opportunity to share my thoughts with him anyway.  It’s parental privilege.  My children are obligated to hear me pontificate on various matters as if I’m an expert and for most of their lives, they will believe me.  I told our son that even if he loses he is still a winner.  Now, I’m not talking about that way-too-liberal-even-for me philosophy that no one should have grades or ever feel as though they lost in a competition.  As a child athlete I realize that is ludicrous.  At the end of each tennis match I participated in there was a winner and a loser.  The person with the higher score won.  Period.  End of story.  I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with grades that that reflect the instructor’s interpretation of how well a student is performing in class. Kids will grow up and be “graded.”  Someone will either sit them in an office and go over their strong points during a review or if they’re lucky enough to succeed in owning their own businesses, customers will grade them in paying for their services or products.  I’m talking about taking hits in life.  Everybody takes them.  Today I was reading about one of the members of the Supreme Court and his journey to appointment.  A number of the Olympic champions have lost competitions; a few during their last time at the Olympics!  Losing is a lesson.  It strengthens you, it trains you, it teaches you about yourself.  I have lost a number of things in my life and this year, especially, I have lost more than my normal quotient.  But many people have.  It isn’t as if fate sits down to meet with you first so that you can agree to an appropriate time for losing.  I mean, that would be great “hey, fate, I’m really not feeling like getting laid off this year but after my kid graduates from college I could take that blow.”  Instead, many times loss just comes; knocks you out of your pumps and ruins your good outfit and makeup.  It is not pretty.  It is not fair.  But it is necessary.  In many cases, it is a good thing.  Being comfortable causes mental atrophy and many of us won’t push ourselves unless we are made to do so.  I tried to communicate to our son that it is okay to lose in life as long as you don’t lose courage, character and resolve.  It’s how you take the hit that makes you a winner.  Our son stared and me for a beat and then responded, “so, I’m not better than daddy?”  I smiled at him and said, “absolutely.”

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4 thoughts on “How to Lose

  1. Keeping Up With The Holsbys August 10, 2012 at 9:52 am Reply

    Very nicely written piece…. But you know you’re kidding yourself if you really think they’ll believe you for most of their lives, right? 😉

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