In his groundbreaking book Integrity, The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, Dr Henry Cloud outlines what he considers to be one of the most important character traits that any child can gain as they grow up. As the title suggests, the ability or skill in learning how to lose well is that character trait. Why is this? What is Henry Could wanting to communicate here?
After all, if you’ve read the book or seen the film Apollo 13, you’ll probably remember the phrase that echoes down the corridors of time, cheering us on:
"Failure is not an option!".
The tenacity, brilliance, creativity and sheer dogged determinism to save the precious lives of the astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 spacecraft will be studied and remember for decades, if not centuries.
So, is failure ever an option? What would 77 year old Gene Kranz say to Henry Cloud’s ideas?
Obviously I think they both have some valid things to say.
Here’s my angle on it: winners want to be successful in what they work at, they are not satisfied with second best. They want to achieve the best possible result for the goal they have in mind. They don’t want anything else. When winners don’t achieve their original goal however, they recognize that they have lost, but they know that they haven’t failed.
This is a very important point. Think about the last time you lost. Did you feel like a failure, coming down hard on yourself for not having achieved what you might have done had you just been that much smarter or perhaps if you had worked that bit harder….
It’s an easy thing to do.
But, and listen up here: it’s a killer way to analyze your loss. Losing is, after all, is as much part of life as winning. But in a real sense, failure is not an option, winning or losing. If Gene Kranz hadn’t managed to pull the team together, if they hadn’t been able to save the lives of their friends some 250,000 miles from home, they would have indeed lost.
But they would have done everything in their power to make a success – to get a win – out of what was understandably an almost impossible situation.
How they responded to their reality made ALL the difference.
They were tenacious, focused and determined. But they knew that success was not an automatic given.. Gene Kranz and his team of engineers, scientists and technicians also knew that their mindset would play a huge part in the chances of success, however. AND THIS IS THE KEY.
How we respond to the challenges, setbacks, lack of desired outcomes, makes all the difference to whether or not we are winners or not.
You see, I believe, we can be winners whether or not we get what we want. We might not always succeed in our goals. We might, if our lives are anything like the other billions of people on the planet, sometimes suffer hardship, pain, or disappointment.
But despite this, if we have the right mindset – if we know how to lose well – to accept that things might not always go the way we want – then we are far more likely to maintain our sense of destiny, courage, tenacity and enthusiasm for life. Whilst there is always something to be sad about in life, there are many things a grateful heart has to be thankful for.
So make it your goal to know how to lose well, to gain the type of thinking which has resilience and creativity in the face of adversity.
How do you do that? Well, the only way I know is by letting others into my space, either via my personal development through books and courses, or ultimately via the process of relationship with an important other or others. In my case, my wife, family and my faith in God are the biggest influence on an on-going basis.
But if you have a different outlook on life, or are not in a close relationship, you can achieve a very high degree of success by surrounding yourself with a like-minded community of people who all share the same quest for wholeness (one of the six faces of integrity as Henry Cloud defines it).
Masterminding, finding a group of people with whom you can be honest with, and many other methods, can all help improve our mindset, our outlook on the world, our perception of ourselves and others.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing this with developing skills. Real winners know that the main difference between winners and failures is not skill. It’s our mindset and character.
As Jim Rohn famously said: work harder on yourself than your job. More than ever n the current economy, we know that a job is a fleeting hope for many. But real winners have the courage to face the reality of their situations and turn them to a new direction to create the circumstances for success.
They know they might not always achieve what they want. But they know how lose well.
PS: I’ve recently started a new website called the 365 Secrets of Success Please do pay the website a visit and add your comments. Share your wisdom and insight.