I think we all do the same thing when we win: Celebrate! But, as the saying goes, you can’t win ’em all. How you handle (inevitably) losing speaks volumes about you, both as a person and to your success in future endeavors. So ask yourself, when you lose, do you lose well?
Last year, I was shopping around car dealerships to broker a private deal with an individual for a project car I wanted to purchase. To find an honest and reputable dealer, I decided to hide my intentions and play the role of a “normal” car buyer and see if they treated me well. The first one I went to was very helpful, showed me several cars, then I asked them to follow up with me soon so I could make a decision. As I walked off the lot, and they immediately chalked it up as a loss–they never called me back. But here’s the thing: I still needed a dealer to broker my deal. If they would have just called me back, they could have made a little money off a private deal. They did not lose well. In fact, they’ll never even know it cost them a sure and easy win!
If nothing else, losing should be a learning opportunity. Why did you lose? Was there something you could have done better? We don’t always like to admit when we screw up… And, even more often we’re simply blind to our own mistakes. In my experience, most losses are by an inch–not a mile. So, small reasons are easy to miss but critical to improve. Ask why you lose, learn from it, and improve for next time!
Sometimes, there’s nothing you could have done to prevent failure. Maybe the odds were just stacked up against you, and there was legitimately no way to have changed the outcome. But, if you know you’ve lost, at least you know! There’s nothing worse than constantly wondering if you would’ve won or lost something because you’re afraid to ask. Yet, we’re often afraid to ask the tough question: We didn’t win it, right? If you’re going to get a “no,” get it out of the way so you can stop obsessing over it and move on.
Be a good sport. Stay in contact, even when you lose! Remember my used car lot story? If they had simply called me back, they would have had a second chance at an easy win. In any and every industry, people sometimes experience “buyer’s remorse” or things sometimes fall through. Guess which runner up gets that deal? The one who humbly stays in touch. Bandage your hurt ego, reach out and show you care more than just about winning a deal.
Losing is as much a part of success as winning is. Learning to deal with it well is certainly tough, but it’s well worth it! Take it from Vince:
“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.” — Vince Lombardi