The recent Olympic Summer games made me think in a different way about one aspect of sports. The dreaded capital “L”, losing. Seeing athletes who have sacrificed so much of their lives come up short on the biggest stage is heart breaking. We don’t often think of this but the vast majority of athletes leave the games without a chunk of shiny medal around their necks. Sports, even with it’s downsides and negatives, can give us great insight into life especially when it comes to accepting losing.
For us non-professional athletes we don’t often think about losing or winning but we do think in terms of success and the even more dreaded f-word, failure. Now when we talk about losing, maybe more so on the north side of Chicago, we obviously don’t like losing and yet failure has a sting and weight all it’s own. Losing a game is nowhere near the kind of pain and disappointment of a failed relationship or failed career choice or failed work project but sports and games are small, sneaky teachers of how to face the challenge of failure. Here are five lessons that I’ve gleaned from sports that can help us live with the dreaded “L” or failure and not just live but grow from the experience.
We all know people personally or from super market tabloids or probably often ourselves, who are incredibly successful in our outward appearances but still feel they are missing the mark somehow. The problem is success or victory in life can’t always be measured by a simple “W” or as a number in a column. For instance a person who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle for the first time just finishing a Fun Run could be considered more of a victory than a pro getting first in a marathon. Simply saying the word “no” can be a victory for some of us who struggle to let those around us know how we feel and what we want. On the outside of my favorite team’s stadium is a quote that I love and that has a powerful definition of victory. Carved in stone it reads “Not the victory but the action; Not the goal but the game; In the deed the glory”. Failure calls us to personally reflect and grow and in doing so we find real success.
Nick Brennfoerder is a Royals fan & sees clients out of the Yorkville Office