Winning shows us that we have achieved our goals, and it feels wonderful. Our bodies receive a surge of chemicals and hormones, including dopamine, when we succeed, and it drives us to push even harder to reach our next goal. Losing does not feel good, because we aren’t rewarded in the same way. It does, however, have its own rewards.
In Japanese culture, there is a saying that goes something like, “We learn little from victory, much from defeat.” Losing forces us to realize that our methods are not effective, and gives us the opportunity to examine our behaviors for improvement. It leads to the creation of new and innovative ideas. Even the great inventor Thomas Edison once pointed out that his failures were really discoveries that certain methods didn’t work. Although he claims his only accidental discovery was the phonograph, many of his creations arose from surprises while he was working on other projects. It’s also worth noting that Super Glue was originally an irritation to Harry Coover, though he later decided to bottle it for sale. Even Velcro was inspired by a pup who found himself covered in burs after a trip outdoors. Without errors, these things, and many more, would not exist.
One of the greatest things you can learn from mentoring and coaching is to accept these losses, and see them for what they truly are- opportunities to learn and grow. As you set out to achieve your goals, reach for them with all your might. If you should fall short, appreciate what you did well, recognize your strengths, and use your losses to achieve more next time.