Have you ever lost? Have you ever stepped up, did your best and fell short? It sucks, doesn’t it?

I hate to lose. I hate to lose more than I hate spinach. I hate to lose more than I hate mud and humidity. I hate to lose more than I love to win.

But I shouldn’t.

This was made really clear to me watching my son show steers. Last week I wrote about how Jack practices with his steer. We take practice pretty seriously and it usually pays off but at the last show, it didn’t. Even though Jack was the only showman in showmanship who didn’t lose his steer, he didn’t place. We were all pretty upset, but we learned some things we might not have if he had won.

After that show, I watched Jack focus harder on practice than I have ever seen him focus before. He hates to lose as much as I do and watching him work, I was struck with the thought that if you want to be an ass kicker, you have to get your ass kicked.  That’s how you learn.

Looking back, I’ve won a lot. My first year in Toastmasters, I ran through the Table Topics contest. I won the club, the area, the division and then won the district contest too. I honestly had no idea how hard this is to do until a few years later. I won every contest I had entered but winning didn’t teach me anything.

Later that year, I entered the International Contest. I won the club, rolled through the Area and made it to Division. I won there and still having never lost a contest, went to the district contest and got my ass kicked.

I hate to lose, but it was a loss that I needed.

I needed to lose to improve as a communicator. I needed to lose to learn to connect with an audience. I needed to lose to learn the humility that was holding me back. I wanted to be an ass kicker so I needed to get my ass kicked.

There are lessons to be learned from winning, but there are by far more to learn from losing. It’s how we find out how to improve. It’s the way learn the value of practice and hard work. It hurts, it sucks and no one likes it, but it’s how we get better.

All of us have contests we want to win, but won’t. We’ll have jobs that we will apply for and get passed over. Promotions that go to someone else and sales we’ll miss. We are going to lose. We’re going to get our ass kicked. It’s ok. We don’t have to like it, but if we’re lucky, we’ll learn from it.

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