Thursday, 17 January 2013

Lose to Win

A guest blog by @CornellThomas

Every game I have ever played ended up with a winner and a loser. I never played soccer when I was little so I never experienced what a "tie" was like. Either I was walking off the court smiling with my head high, or I was walking off upset and disappointed. In sports you learn at an early age the difference between the two.

You are taught winning is everything. After you "win" a game you get to go out for ice cream, mom and dad are a lot happier, and even your coach kind of forgot the three plays you screwed up in the fourth quarter. In contrast after you "lose" there is no ice cream, mom and dad are giving you a detailed breakdown of your teams’ performance, and your coach somehow has channelled the power of time travel and can recall each and every one of your mistakes, including the one while you were on the bench.

No one celebrates a loss. In the coaching world you hear phrases like, "there’s no such thing as moral victories". Which basically means ok so you only lost by four points to a really good team but you lost, still no ice cream. I think what a lot of people (including myself sometimes) tend to forget is there’s a bigger lesson in losing than in winning. Now that’s not to say you should lose every game just to gain more knowledge, but you shouldn’t look at failures like you're a failure.

When I was seventeen my mom decided to reluctantly take me to my driver’s test. We're talking a little ways back so bear with me on the car reference. Our family had a Chevy Lumina van. It looked exactly like one of those bullets that try to kill you in Super Mario Brothers but about 13 feet long. We didn’t have another vehicle I could use so I did my test with the soccer mom special. As soon as my tester opened the door he said, "Son I couldn’t past this test with this van, I'm going to have to fail you before we even start". He wasn’t kidding either, he took out my sheet and wrote FAILED, in big red letters across the top of it.

My instructor then put his seatbelt on and told me to go through the course. I was perplexed by what was going on. I already FAILED why the heck am I doing the test still? As we went through the test I realized how impossible it would of been to pass it, but during it he showed me every little thing they looked for when determining if a student is a competent driver or not. After we went through the course I was amazed how much I learned in that ten-minute span.

Even if I did have a normal sized car, it would have been a tough test to pass. Back then you could only fail one thing; today I think you can text while you do the course and still pass. When I came back a month later I had a different instructor but aced the test.

Everyone loves the underdog because it gives us hope that we can fight past our own failures. Rocky, Rudy, Ralph Macchio (ok the last one was a reach; I was going with the letter R theme, but in fairness his last name in the movie Karate Kid did have one) - they all failed before they succeeded.

The next time you lose don’t look at what you lost; look at what you can gain from that loss.

Twitter: @CornellThomas


  1. Well said, Coach!

  2. Cornell, your folks named you well. You name sounds smart and you're obviously a bright and thoughtful person. I had to laugh about the ice cream, but it was a great device to make your point. No wonder your site is called the Power of Positivity, it suits you well.

    Thank you, Les for sharing Cornell's unique POV with us.

  3. Hi Cornell,

    I went to your blog and read your entry about Writer's Block and all I can say is; I get it! Thanks for putting pen to paper though. Your voice is loud and clear!!

  4. Maybe I coddle my kids, but we get the ice cream win or lose. I always tell them they learn a lot when they lose. Of course, one volleyball season when my daughter's team lost all but one game, she said she had learned more than enough that season. Thanks for sharing your story, Cornell.

  5. chad ( January 2013 at 04:49

    When i was young i only cared about winning for one reason - avoidance of punishment. The angry rant from the coach, the over expressed disappointment of parents, were enough to drive my desire to win. In reality the entire experience was a loss. I never enjoyed a game for what it was. Everybody loses, everyday we lose, we have to lose before we win. I have to fall from my bike before i master balance, i have to play bad before i need to practice, this is growing, its what we do. Losing is the path to winning. To understand loss is a win. The only real losers are those that can't handle losing and any winner who wins just so he does not lose really loses. I would say to any parent dob't make your child a loser just let them walk the oath to winning.

  6. Great post, thanks for this.