Learn from Losing


Winning-or-LosingAnyone who really knows me knows that I’m extremely competitive. In everything I do I want to WIN! It doesn’t matter if it’s a pickup basketball game, a game of Taboo at a family dinner or a simple word game on my iPad, my ultimate objective is to WIN! Not very long ago the desire to return to the basketball court was rekindled, so I found an adult women’s league and joined. “Oh boy” is all I can say when I revisit this memory.  Because I didn’t know or have other women to form my own team I was a “free agent” which meant I was randomly placed on a team.  What a team that was.  The seventies movie “The Bad News Bears” comes to mind.  The skill level of the women on the team varied but most of them were terrible.  Some had played in middle school or the local park but the majority had never really played on a seriously competitive level.  This was my first “ut-oh”.  We had one young lady who was about twenty-five and she was a great ball handler.  She was the saving grace for our team because at least we had someone who could dribble.  Even though I had collegiate experience you must keep in mind that I was no longer a twenty-something (or thirty-something for that matter).  I could do a little of bit of damage “in the paint” or shoot a few jump shots but I could only play five minutes at a time.  After the five minute mark, I needed a SUB!!! Watching our team play was nothing short of pure comic relief.  After watching my first game, my daughter refused to come back.  Well I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that we lost EVERY game.  You have no idea how hard it was for me (Ms. Winning Is Everything) to continue to play on this team.  Imagine driving 80 miles round trip to get pulverized. Thankfully it was only once a week and just for six weeks.  I don’t think my ego could take much longer. While I didn’t get a trophy when this was over I got a lot of other things.  The first thing I learned is I didn’t miss basketball as much as I had thought.  No, I’m just joking.  I really did miss the game and the physical intensity.  On a serious note, this experience reaffirmed the importance of finishing what you start.  I was blessed to know, love and spend a great deal of time with my great-grandmother.  She taught me so many subtle lessons and the lesson that comes to mind in this story is when she would tout “don’t start something if you’re not going to finish”.  I could hear the “sass” in her tone each week when it was time to make that 80 mile trek. Everyone who started the six week journey didn’t finish.  Some quit after week one. However, because I didn’t have a quitter’s spirit, I had to finish what I started.  Please note I hit delete each time I get an email from that league. I’m not remotely interested in putting myself though that torture ever again.

My desire to win makes me work very hard and do whatever it takes.  However, the reality is, I don’t always win.  In fact, I have failed more times than I have succeeded.  I have failed in business.  I have tried businesses that didn’t work.  I have also made some really bad business decisions.  Who hasn’t failed in love?  I certainly have! Several times! I have also trusted the wrong people when it came to family and friends.  I have even failed a test (once).

That failure and many others have never been enough to keep me down.  When I fall, I simply brush myself off and try again. I have never been one to focus on the negative.  I honestly don’t care very much for what’s wrong, I ‘m more concerned about what’s right.  I believe that characteristic is the driving force in why I have accomplished the things I have and it is what drives me to always do more and be more. This is the same drive that you will need to be all that you can be.  You have to approach every situation with the desire to win, even if you end of losing.

Many people are so afraid to fail that they never try.  The thing about losing is it is an opportunity to get better.  Each time I have failed I have a meeting with myself.  I ask myself the following questions: What went wrong?  What went well?  What I could have done differently? What did I do well?  What did I learned about myself?  What will I do the next time?

I remember when I was in college before or after practice we were required to watch the videos of our games, especially the ones we lost.  Our coaches would stop the video at certain points and show us what we did wrong. I can honestly say back then, I hated this.  The last thing I wanted to see was a reenactment of my mistakes or failures.  But as I matured, I could truly see the value in this.  It was an incredible way to improve. In life, we don’t have a video (well hopefully you do not) of our every mistake; so we have to replay it in our mind. It is a very important personal development tool to use.  However, it takes thick skin and the ability to be real with oneself. You have to be willing to ask and answer the tough questions. However, when you get to that point in your life it can be a huge breakthrough.

This is an excerpt from Bernadette Johnson’s (currently Harris) book entitled: “Life and Basketball: 7 Locker Room Lessons That Score Big In Life.  Her book is available on Amazonin paperback or Kindle version.  Bernadette, a former collegiate athlete, is a Tax and Forensic Accountant, Dynamic Trainer and Published Author.

Bernadette Harris

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