“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” ~ Marilyn vos Savant …
I love this quote! So much of who we are–our attitudes, our character, and how we perceive life–can be witnessed in how we approach defeat. Throughout our lives, we all face it. And the more risks we take by putting ourselves out there and trying, the more defeats we will have to experience. In addition, because most of us have tasted defeat before, when we are confronted with the prospect of failure and defeat again, that bitter taste comes back and we fear it–often times choosing to avoid taking the risk. Yet when we have grown accustomed to only attempting things we feel that we will succeed at, we are left in a place of very little growth.
But we should not let the possibility of defeat determine our decisions in life. After all, the majority of defeats we will face in our lives will not be final. Often times we have hit a dead end or the path we are on needs changing; other times we were simply outmatched by someone bigger, better, more talented, or perhaps just trained harder than we did. Usually, defeats are just life’s way of teaching us what we need to work on, what we need to improve at, what we need to change if we want to succeed and reach our goals in the future. Every time I lose a hockey game I take time to sit down and figure out how I might have made different plays, skated harder, took a bit more time to make cleaner passes. One of my favorite quotes for athletes and defeat comes from Michael Jordan: “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
In truth, failure is often God’s way of helping us to grow stronger and wiser and to help point us in the right direction–a new direction that is not the end, but a potential beginning. And if we can simply find the determination to persevere in spite of failure, we will discover that there exists limitless possibilities and unimaginable potential within us. Of course, we also must be open to the possibility that we are potentially attempting the wrong thing. For instance, when I was going through college, I worked in computer sales at a local electronics chain. I tried to do a good job and was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, but I was a terrible salesperson–I always tried to help people find the absolute best deals that I would seek myself, which led to lower profits for the company. And although the customers loved me, and my manager came to me for answers all the time, I was constantly reminded that my goal was to be selling more profitable systems and bundles. Thus through this experience, I was able to learn that I am not a good salesperson, and that I should pursue other lines of work better suited to who I am.
In 2003, I contested to represent my people at theNigerian National Assembly and was defeated under very “painful undemocratic” circumstances and I “gave up”. With the benefit of hindsight and better knowledge and life experience I’m blessed with today, giving up on it remains a big mistake on my part.
Every day I am faced with failure, defeat, and rejection, and I am ok with that. I have made it a part of my life, just as I have success. And in doing so, I have made room for tremendous opportunity. If you have a passion, do not give up, for if you do, the final defeat is coming from within you, not from outside. But if you persevere, then you can say that you gave it your best, and you did not stand in your own way, and win or lose, you faced defeat and came out the victor.
If you find yourself failing anything today, give it one more shot.
Questions to consider:
Why is it so easy for us to give up? What is going on in our minds when we do?
How might we reframe defeat in our minds in order to look at it as a lesson?
What kinds of strategies might you use to deal with a defeat and turn it into a learning experience?
For further thought:
“In every adversity there lies the seed of an equivalent advantage. In every defeat is a lesson showing you how to win the victory next time.” ~ Robert Collier, Riches Within Your Reach