There is a stigma that not-winning is directly associated with failure. However, failure is a result of giving up, blaming someone else for our own shortcomings, giving into the adverse feeling of defeat, or the unwillingness to learn from the situation. Winning/Passing may be contingent upon other factors, but failure and learning are always a choice.
Winning a competition is only partially in our own hands. We can train fiercely to work on our skills, but there is another piece of the equation that we cannot affect, the performance of the other competitor. Passing an exam is almost entirely up to the person testing as long as expectations were well set by the examiner. Either way, with competition or exams, we can only prep ourselves to the best of our ability. However, don’t let that undermine the importance of putting in the hard work and achieving specific goals to determine what ‘the best of our ability’ actually looks like.
If we do not win a competition or pass an exam, there is still plenty of space for learning. Even if you do win or pass, there is still plenty of space for learning. What can you do better next time? Where did you do well? Where did you lack in performance? Did you receive or request feedback from your coach/teacher/examiner? What did you do with that feedback? Every situation is an opportunity for growth and learning.
We cannot allow adverse feelings of defeat determine our growth. We must actively reconstruct our thoughts from those of adverse defeat to those of excitement for growth and learning. In the moment of loss, that may not be easy; learning to control and reconstruct thoughts takes practice. However, one of the worst things a person can do is dwell on defeat, negative thoughts, or of self-pity or self-doubt. If you find yourself dwelling, snap out of it and make the choice to actively reconstruct your thoughts and dwell on those of growth instead.
Philosophers and modern psychologist alike will agree that life is perception. How you construct the image of yourself and your perception of events will become your life. You are in control of the story of your life through the choices you make and thoughts that you allow to dwell. As the late psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, said in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Thanks for reading. I encourage you to read more about Vicktor Frankl at The Pursuit of Happiness.