What to do with Defeat

This week, the world’s greatest athletes return home from London wielding medals, triumph and the pride of their countries.

Even more of them will go home defeated.

The lucky ones will have another change in four years. For others, this was their last or only shot. They go home knowing that they are great … but not the greatest.

We all suffer defeat from time to time. If you don’t, you’re not really living. Which means that defeat is merely a symptom of a rich life.

Of course, that may not be much comfort when you’re still feeling the sting of defeat. But the people we become are made in those moments. Here’s some ways defeat makes us better:

Doubled determination.
Sometimes, being told “no” makes you want something even more. Take it back to the drawing board. Form a new plan of attack. The things that hold the most value are the ones you have to fight for.

Lessons learned.
Our strengths and our weaknesses. What works, what doesn’t. What to do differently next time. Sometimes the only way to learn is through trial and error.

Thicker skin.
It’s a rough world out there. If you’re going to be brave enough to stick your neck out, you’re going to need to learn to cope with being tossed around a bit. Every time you handle a defeat, you get stronger for the next time.

When you suffer, you learn how to help others in their suffering. This is not a trait to be overlooked. Look at how Lolo Jones was right at the side of Brigitte Foster-Hylton following her error the 100m hurdles semifinals.

New opportunities.
All these positives to defeat culminate in a new strength. You know yourself better and you know more about the project or goal you’ve set out to build. And sometimes, a defeat can lead you down a strange side path you never would have found in success.

Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen.
Carl Sandburg


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