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I’ve been called a loser more than once.
Often it’s by my kids, who don’t like some stupid joke I just played on them.
But I’ve also made a bucketful of mistakes in my time on this Earth and have lost everything from money to employees to elections to friends. I’ve even lost the trail in the bush a few times.
I lost twice this week, at least the basketball team I coach did in our quest to be the best junior A girls team possible. Going into the tournament, we had a perfect record of 17-0. However, the teams we played were older, bigger and faster. The losses humbled us. Still, the defeats were invaluable in our quest to be the best we can be.
Losing hurts and if you’re like me, you typically don’t like it. But it’s a part of our lives and our businesses.
If it hurts so badly, how can losing be valuable?
My biggest financial loss takes me back to 1998, when my partners and I opened a new business. As the operating partner, it was my responsibility to see that the business made money and was successful. This didn’t happen. In fact, the business lost hundreds of thousands of dollars over the first three years before I was able to turn it around and run it profitably until 2017, when I sold out.
I could blame others, the economy, location and a whole litany of other things. But, ultimately, I had to face the fact that I made some bad decisions. I took the company down a difficult path that was painful for people in the company and my family.
But ask me if I would do it again and the answer would be a resounding “Yes!” That loss and those difficult years taught me so many things that enriched my life. Here’s what I found valuable in losing:
When we lose something, we start to understand what’s important. We see clearer what we value and those things that are significant to us.
Having a big financial loss might give us clarity that family and friendships are important, that preparation and planning make a difference, that there’s so much more to life than money.
When we suffer a loss, we start to realize how strong we can be. We start to think differently and figure out ways to get out of a tough spot.
In turning around a basketball game or a business, we need to be tough and fight for what we want.
Losing teaches us that we can come back.
I’ve learned more through my losses than I ever have through my wins. The reason that learning is such a great benefit to losing is that we often spend more time dwelling on the reasons for that loss.
Whether we have lost a love or an investment, the impression is probably burned into our brain as something we don’t want to feel again. Learning from our mistakes is what drives us to be better.
I don’t have all the answers and I’m more likely to listen to those who might when I get into a tough spot.
Losing is truly humbling and through that humility not only do we gain knowledge, we gain friendships.
My basketball team lost this weekend and we might lose a few more times before the end of the season. However, the losses we suffered actually encouraged the team to fight harder and to believe in themselves more. Not only did the team learn from the experience, it bonded them.
Having a strong team that has been fortified by going through tough experiences enables you to face challenges you might not have been able to before.
Whether it’s in our personal lives, business or sports, losing can change us forever in a positive manner.
However, if we fear failure, we rarely take the risks that give us those chances to grow as a company or as a person.
David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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