Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You Learn

We interrupt the string of newsletters of late to talk about the importance of losing. Whether we call it losing or reframe it say “not meeting goals” or “not meeting expectations”, missing, failing or incomplete, suffice to say sometimes we just don’t get the job done. Let me offer this lesson via story.

In the spring and summer, about every other week between March and September, we travel to various parts of Oregon to participate in rodeo events with our son. He ropes calves off of a fast-moving horse. So we have 5-hour drives. 3-hour drives. 6-hour drives – ONE WAY. With a horse, no less! And his average performance time? 20-30 seconds. This happens about twice a day for 2-3 days. That’s right – if you’re doing the math, that’s 90 seconds per event, all weekend. And this isn’t football, friends. He doesn’t have a 50/50 chance of winning. There’s a very strong chance he could miss his catch. And our first two high school rodeos – NADA. No catch. No placement. No points. So, what lesson do we take away? What do you tell your kids when they don’t place? When they lose? When there’s no ribbon (or buckle in our case)? No points?

Well, we tell our kids, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” The greatest lessons come from losing. We can problem solve development, have a thirst for improvement and gain insight into performance. And at the end of the day, the MOST important factor for ALL of us – parents and kids? We show up. We are there for our kids and they show up for their sport and their team (or horse!). And showing up matters.

There are other takeaways too. Is Jack bummed when he misses? Of course. Is he hard on himself? Yes. Sometimes, he struggles in finding the lesson and has to work on harder skills like accountability and self-reflection. Skills that are harder to find if you always win. He has to work on thanking his trainers, feeding his horse, and showing gratitude to us for sacrificing weekends away as a family. AND – those are ALL life skills.

So, never doubt that losing equates to growth. Allow your kids to stumble. To fail. To wonder why they didn’t take home the trophy. Because when they win, it will feel so much more deserved.

Pro-tip: Tell your kids what you like about watching them compete, regardless of whether they win or lose. This builds skills of confidence and competence that keys to resilience. Here are some starting scripts:

  • Hey Jack, you’re amazing with your horse.
  • You always show up for your teammates.
  • I know you’re disappointed, but you showed humility and respect.
  • In our family, we value learning as much as winning.

On a personal note, I was really bummed when my provider retreat scheduled for this spring did not fill to capacity. It has to be rescheduled. So, I’m looking for lessons, bright spots, self-reflection, and self-forgiveness. If you’re a provider and you’d like to save a spot for this fall’s retreat, let me know by sending me an email! If you are a registered attendee, don’t worry, my team and I will be touching base with you soon.

Otherwise, maybe I’ll see you at a rodeo this summer! Yeehaw!

With compassion,

Dr. Amy