On Winning and…Whining

In sports as in life, victims make excuses for their failures while victors get busy scouting for their next success.

Before the horn sounded last night formalizing the Duke victory over Wisconsin in the March Madness title game, some on social media were already criticized the referees for favoritism towards Duke, citing several late game calls that hurt Wisconsin.

When Disappointment Knocks…

Victims and victors look at the same events, but draw completely different conclusions, as illustrated in the table below:

Situation Victim Victor
On my team losing. The refs played favorites; the other team cheated! My opponent was better prepared this time; I’ll be better prepared next time. 
On not getting promoted. My boss always promotes his pets; I won’t get promoted because I refuse to suck up! This wasn’t my time; next time I ready myself so that I am the best and only logical choice. 
On the loss of my candidate. The left-wing / right-wing (whichever) media bias lied about my candidate.  In this election, more people agreed with the views of the other candidate than the one I liked. 

Next time you, your team, your candidate, or your industry faces a loss, be the biggest person in the room. Ask yourself:

1. What can I admire about the winner?

Focusing on something positive, even if it seems counter-intuitive and difficult, prevents you from obsessing about the loss, the negative, the sour part of the grape. Doing so also makes you look like a winner instead of a whiner.

2. Did I perform my best?

Objectively evaluate your performance after each loss, determining if you brought your best to the outing. Measure your success by your efforts, not the final score. If you did your best and still lost, be proud of yourself. Long ago, I learned that I’m much happier when I compare myself against myself instead of others, because someone is always better, brighter, faster, etc.

3. Was is the outcome within my control?

Finally, and this part stinks, if you lose because of things truly outside of your control—like a series of bad calls or judgments on the part of someone else LIKE WHAT MAY HAVE HAPPENED LAST NIGHT—remember the sportsmanship lessons from childhood: Shake hands with the other team when you win; shake hands with the other team when you lose. Then say, “Good game.”

Believe it or not, you will live to see another day and return to play again another time. And next time, the outcome might turn out very differently.

But winners always act like winners, not whiners, even when they lose.


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