By David Allen Elite FTS
There have been many articles written about winning and rightfully so. Winning has multiple definitions, both public and personal, but the consensus is still the same: winning is good. I also believe that winning is good. In fact, I would go further and say that winning is necessary. It is vital for life.
Winning doesn’t necessarily mean beating an opponent. If you enter a powerlifting meet with the goal of hitting a certain total and you accomplish that goal, you have still won regardless of your placing. Of course, if your goal was to win your class or win best lifter, you would have to judge yourself against that goal. When elitefts™ accomplishes the goal of raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, they are winning even though there isn’t any competition. While winning gets plenty of attention, the contrast of winning—losing—rarely gets the same air time. This article will help define and analyze the inputs, results and contrasts between losing, failing and quitting.
In any competition, there can really only be one true victor. In this sense, falling anywhere outside of the winner’s circle would be classified as losing. Losing is failing to beat your opponent(s) in a specific contest. As great as it feels to win, losing feels equally as bad. It sucks. For competitive individuals, teams and groups, winning is the drug that you need to keep your high and it will make you do crazy things to get a taste of it. It will make you try for one more rep when you feel like your body is about to break. It will make you wake up early to get to the office before anyone else. It will make you put in the extra effort. For competitors, that is part of what makes losing so hard. Losing doesn’t suck when it’s something you don’t care about. However, when you’ve done everything you feel you could have done and you’ve put in the extra hours and extra work and dealt with the extra pain and stress, losing will rip your heart out. And that’s a good thing.
A true competitor will take the negative effect of losing and turn it into the positive drive to succeed the next time. John Elway is a great example. He made it to the Super Bowl three times and lost before turning around and winning the next two. A true competitor won’t let a loss, no matter how significant, defeat him. It is fuel for the fire to work harder, push further, and do everything possible to ensure a victory the next time.
People often confuse losing and failing. You can lose without failing, and you can fail without losing. Losing is a reference to how you do compared to an opponent. Failing is a reference to how you do compared to whatever goals you had established. You can set out to hit a 2,000-pound total, accomplish that goal, and still technically lose to another lifter in your class. The opposite is true in that you can set out to hit a 2,000-pound total and fail to do so but still win your class. Losing and winning are a comparison of you versus someone else while failing is a comparison of yourself versus yourself.
Losing will build a fire under a competitor. It is more emotionally based. The lessons learned from failing are more mental. You have to truly analyze your strategy and see where you messed up. You can do your absolute best and still lose, but failing means that somewhere along the line, you weren’t able to produce your best product or effort. The question is why. You have to analyze your entire process from goal setting at the onset to game day strategy. Don’t let failing take an emotional hold and set you back. Instead, hit the drawing boards and figure out what you could do better.
While losing and failing both have a competitive component, quitting doesn’t. It is the loss of competitive drive. It’s having the means to succeed without the desire to. There are times in everyone’s life when they will have to take a step back, pull out of a meet, take some time off from work, or make some other change of priorities. When life happens, certain things have to get out of the way. I don’t consider that quitting. Quitting is being afraid of the chance of losing or failing and deciding not to compete because of that fear. Quitting is failing to have the will to put in the necessary steps in order to succeed.
While quitting isn’t something you should strive toward or be OK with, should you find yourself having quit something, there is still a lesson to be learned. Again, if it is something you don’t care about, you probably won’t feel any emotional pull after quitting. I quit making my bed a long time ago and have suffered no ill regrets. But if it’s something that you truly care about, the emotional pull will be there. You could ride it out for a while until it dies down, but that thought will always be in the back of your head—“What if I hadn’t quit?” If you have that voice in your head and decide to step back into competitive mode, it should drive you to succeed because you won’t let yourself feel that regret again.
At some point in life, you’ll win, lose, fail and quit. None of them alone will define who you are, but your approach to all four will determine the end results. Know the difference between them and have a plan for how to handle each. If done correctly, you can never truly lose or fail because you will learn to turn those experiences around and ultimately win.