Winning and Losing

Fotolia Trophy number 1_21120210_Subscription_XXLI was talking with one of my young grandsons recently about a weekend baseball game his team had just played. When I asked if he had fun, he responded, “Well, I guess. But we were tied and it was almost over and then they scored in the last inning. I don’t like losing, Grandma.” This gave us the chance to have a long conversation about the experience and his feelings about winning and losing.

To be honest, none of us really likes to lose. Sure we have the cliché responses reassuring us: It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Or: You learn more from failure than success. But given the choice, most kids – and adults – would rather win than lose. But that’s not really the question since usually we don’t have that option. Rather the outcome of a game – or any endeavor – may stem from uncontrollable factors such as chance and other people’s actions as well as from our own efforts and abilities.

Yet we can choose how to respond after a loss and there are good role models for us to follow, in competitive games and in life, such as legendary coach, John Wooden. His perspective on how to create ‘Competitive Greatness’ can serve as a foundation for our own actions as we strive for success.

When I was growing up, girls generally didn’t have as many opportunities to compete in sports – and therefore didn’t have the same numerous experiences of losing – as did young men. Consequently, we were slow to develop good skills to cope with failure. Ever since Title IX was put into place, providing for more funding for girls’ sports programs, young women have been more exposed to the sports lessons of winning and losing. And we’ve learned from those encounters how to strive again after a loss. 

So given the fact that we likely will have many situations in which we are not the winners, what do we learn from those experiences and how do we then move forward? Check back later this week, for some suggestions about how to pick yourself up after a loss, engage your resilience and get back into the ring.

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