Stretch #14: accept you are not perfect

The world is not divided in winners or losers. Pic by Martin Knize

Our society reveres winning like no other had ever before.

When I requested feedback on my revised Twitter bio, I colleague told me to add the word ‘win’. “You help organizations prepare to win.” — he added — “winning is the only thing that people care about.”

Well, living in a culture that only celebrates winners is hurting people. Not everyone will win all the time. What happens when you lose?

The worst defeat you can face — both in your professional and personal life- is not being prepared to deal with losing.

Today’s stretch: accept you are not perfect

“You are not defeated when you lose. You are defeated when you quit.” — Paulo Coelho

Those who have worked with me know I am a very competitive person. I like to win. I like challenges and to succeed. This is not an apologia of losing.

But separating the world between winners and losers is hurting your potential. Adjectives are labels that get us stuck, as I wrote here.

In any sports match, for every team that wins, one will be defeated. For every five companies pitching for a contract, there will be four losers.

Every job opening attracts 250 candidates, but only 4–5 will be called for an interview. In the end, 249 people won’t get the job.

The media and self-defined leadership gurus promote a culture of winning. They want to prepare you to win. The truth is you will lose more times than not.

When my son was five, he won a medal in every soccer championship he participated in. Not because his team was great. Every team received a medal regardless if they’ve won or lost. That was completely wrong.

That’s a perfect example of our obsession with winning. We avoid confronting the losing team with the fact they lost.

It’s better to prepare to face defeat. And, what better way, than to lose on purpose?

Today’s stretch: accept you are not perfect.

Lose your next match. Let someone else get the best deal in a negotiation. Don’t play at your best this time. Stretch your ability to bounce back.

Overcoming excuses and fear

“Winning and losing are both temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move ahead. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still.” — Chuck Knox, Seattle Seahawks

If you think losing is a sign of weakness, you are wrong. It requires courage. Those who can’t bear to lose are always afraid of the next battle.

I’m not saying winning is not important. But don’t expect to win all the time. Be ready to lose when it happens. And to bounce back. Everything is temporary.

The problem is the belief that success equals to being number one, not to personal fulfillment. When winning is the only thing that matters, we are encouraging people to take shortcuts.

Ben Johnson was stripped of his 1988 Seoul Olympics world-record and gold medal after testing positive for a banned steroid. Lance Armstrong was a fighter and role model only before he admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. He will be remembered as one of the biggest fakes in sports history.

Grey, an iconic global ad agency, returned a Cannes Lion after it was accused of cheating by many — and which the agency itself said was not yet usable.

Winning at all cost is the worst defeat you can overcome.

Stretch, reflect & grow

“Winning provides happiness. Losing provides wisdom.” — Neil Patel

What role does winning play in your life?

Are you afraid of being considered a loser? Why?

How did it feel to lose on purpose? How can it help you bounce back next time you lose?

Before You Go

Change happens one stretch at a time. Each day I post one exercise to help you grow beyond your comfort zone.

Improve your change fitness:

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