Saturday, September 19, 2009

Winning, Losing, and Paying Attention

Watching a fishing show with my husband this morning, interested more in his interest and the lake scenery than the fishing, a sporting goods commercial caught my attention:

"Ignore victory; disregard defeat; look inward to what matters most."

When I look back on my life so far, there have been a lot of wins and losses. I can still feel the emotion...the elation of the win, the despair of the loss. But when I think about how my life is affected today, it's not what I won or how much I lost that has any impact. It's what I learned from the experience that remains.

I lost a job I loved, one that afforded me so many opportunities to grow and develop, allowed me to rebuild much of my nearly-depleted sense of self-worth, rediscover my talents, and find my creative center again. And I grieved that loss for a long time, and as long as I was grieving, focusing on the loss, I stayed stuck there. It was only when I let go of the loss and turned inward, examined my actions and emotions, took inventory of what I still possessed, had always possessed, that I moved forward.

The amazing win, the agonizing defeat...don't mean anything unless we learn something from them. And in the introspection, as we examine what got us into the winners' circle or the losers' bracket, lie the seeds of the next victory, the next stage of growth and development.

I believe that our purpose in life is to be the very best at being exactly who we are. All the wins and losses we accumulate along the way are just markers, stopping points that direct us inward for introspection, self-examination, and growth. It doesn't matter if you won or lost. It matters that you paid attention.


  1. One of the most meaningly events of my life was losing a wrestling match. That may not seem like much, but to me it was devastating at the time. It was also one of best things that ever happened to me. It did initiate that introspection & growth you talk about, and helped to redirect my life in important ways, by causing me to begin to question basic assumptions. Great message.

  2. "...question basic assumptions."

    How many times in my life can I trace the beginning of widsom and insight to questioning my basic assumptions? And the hardest part is that, until that defining moment, the loss or defeat, the hitting bottom, I usually didn't realize I had assumptions. We go through out lives so much of the time on autopilot, driven by beliefs and ideas that we've formed unconsciously, letting an unknown driver take us on a wild ride to an unknown destination, at breakneck speed and without a seatbelt!

    All I can say is, "Thank the All for the potholes, the roadblocks, and the breakdowns!" Without them, I'd still be racing along to who-knows-where.

    Great to have your voice in the choir, Winter MoonWolf. Thanks for singing along.

  3. I spent ten years in senior management in my field (I.T.) before stepping down and going back to writing code. I had climbed the corporate ladder without the slightest bit of regard for whether or not I'd enjoy life at the top but simply because the next rung was always there.

    I was finally able to let go of the position and go back to doing a job that I enjoy when I realized that none of it really mattered. Our rank, the kind of cars we drive, our disposable income... how does any of this improve our karma or make us better people? If a person chooses to make a life of trying to attain status and possessions, that is their choice... but in the grand scheme of things, how does it matter? Especially when we know that these things do not bring true happiness (and in fact take time away from our pursuit of true happiness!)

    Certainly this is not to say that I think there's something bad about pursuing promotions or trying to get a higher-paying job, etc. ... but I do believe our society places way too much emphasis on "winning"... getting ahead, bigger houses, status-symbol cars, etc. ...things that, in and of themselves are not bad, but mere "things" nonetheless.

    I know when I was in upper management and having trouble getting out of bed and coming to work, it was a multi-year struggle to convince myself that I wasn't going to be a "loser" if I chose to go back down the corporate ladder to a job that I truly enjoyed. But I made the move and now I enjoy my job and have less stress. Somehow it doesn't seem like I lost. :)

    I learned from being a manager, and I've learned from stepping down.

    I guess this is a very long-winded way of saying that I couldn't agree more with your post. :)


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