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On a good day, losing isn’t fun. On a bad day, losing can hurt, embarrass, anger, humiliate or shame us. Losing can fire up our fear, drum up our doubt, or kill our confidence.
In fact, if we don’t feel some degree of ‘pinch’ when we lose, we probably didn’t want whatever it was bad enough and, therefore, we didn’t really lose, did we?
Do you know why so many people utterly blow their lottery winnings?
It’s because they didn’t feel as though they worked for it or earned it, so it didn’t really ‘belong’ to them. They could treat their fortune recklessly because it was ‘found’ money, and didn’t result from sweat equity.
At the other end of the spectrum, winning something we’re deeply invested in, intensely committed to, and wildly passionately about is in a category all its own.
In the process of this phenomenon that we call ‘winning’ we lose bits and pieces of who we once were.
Paradoxically, winning in real life isn’t at all black or white; it sits along a continuum somewhere between “I killed it” and “I didn’t lose” depending on who you are in relation to the process. For example:
- You might have gotten the promotion or you might not have gotten laid off.
- You may have come in first in your age group at the 5k, or maybe you simply finished the 5k.
- You might have gotten to your goal weight, or you lost 15 pounds toward that end.
1. Winning is complex
- While setting a goal is theoretical, reaching it is experiential. While ‘losing’ is a period or even a comma, ‘winning’ is, definitively, an exclamation point! We lose the goal we just achieved and create the space to birth a new one.
2. Winning is transformational
- Something radically transformational happens when we win, and it has little to do with getting what we want. The process of getting to the ‘win’ challenges us, changes us, and clarifies our character.
- Over the course of time or all of a sudden, the word “winner” is integrated into our identity.
- When we ‘win’ we lose our previous identity; the one that was tied to both the boredom that accompanies everyday life and the old beliefs that kept us from trying.
3. Winning is a responsibility
- Not only have we set a new bar, but now others will aspire to emulate us or beat us. We lose just a bit more of our fear; we lose our unwillingness to try new things and our doubt that we can change (even at our age). In essence, this sense of responsibility rejuvenates us.
4. Winning is humbling
- When we win we’re in the spotlight; people are watching to see how we’ll handle it. Will we be gracious, conceited, or maybe nonchalant?
- We ‘took’ something a lot of other people wanted which, in and of itself is humbling. While losing is immediate, winning can take a while to absorb, like a slow drip of success.
- We lose some of the bravado, cockiness, and self-aggrandizement that we needed to allow ourselves to enter the race in the first place. This is a very good thing.
5. Winning brings humanity to us
- If you’re a person of character, then you didn’t win deliberately so that someone else would lose. As I wrote in my blog, “Your Competition is in Your Head,” you won to be first, not so that your ‘competitor’ would be last.
- There is a sense of humanity that comes with winning certain things; a sense that you now have to live up to your win. There’s also the thought, “I could just have easily not won.”
- Vulnerability accompanies this feeling of humanity and, if you’re conscious and deliberate in your life, you’ll come to realize that the biggest thing you needed to lose was your fear that if you failed at your goal then you, yourself, were a failure.
6. Winning cultivates authenticity
- The very process of ‘competing’ for something brings out our strengths (yes, our weaknesses too, but I’ll leave that for another blog post).
- When something is really important to us, more of ‘us’, at our core, in our soul and spirit, come out. And when our authentic selves have an outlet for expression, we lose our fear of being an imposter—we have substantially less fear that we’re going to discover we’re a fake.
All of this said I would sincerely invite you to rethink the concepts of winning and losing because there are two aspects, two facets to both. Next time you hold yourself as having ‘lost’ something, stop and ask yourself what you’ve won. Conversely, next time you hold yourself as having ‘won’ something, stop and ask yourself what you’ve lost.
I would love to hear from you so please leave your comments below. Was it a ‘win”? Was it a ‘lose’? What made each one so? I promise to reply to you personally!
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Known as The Impact Expert, she is the main stage speaker, expert trainer, and veteran coach who helps leaders solve key issues related to leadership development, employee engagement, and advancing women. She is the author of the acclaimed book: Impact! What Every Woman Needs to Know to Go from Invisible to Invincible and is currently working on her next book.