Ways To Be A Better Loser

I read a magazine article written by Tim Sanders (www.twitter.com/sanderssays) that talks about the time when he was working at Yahoo! and, despite a strong effort, he lost a major advertising account to AOL.  When it happen, he and his team were obviously devastated, with a few choice opinions about the AOL team.  Sanders later detailed how he saw the AOL team at a gathering soon after, and he decided to go up to them to offer his congratulations.  It wasn’t long before he was chatting them up about marketing strategies and other industry talk.  His team chided him for sucking up and cavorting with the enemy.  He offered that he knew there was a learning experience from the encounter, and that it is through those learnings that improvement can happen.

He offered the following tips on being a ‘better loser’ (excerpted from the magazine article):

Show respect to the winner.  You can’t hate them enough to improve your future performance; that’s unsustainable motivation.  If you always claim that they won unfairly or because you “can’t win for losing,” you’ll never see a way to win.  Winning is more contagious than it is exclusive.  Once you’ve drained the negative energy out of the equation, study the victor.  Itemize what those victors got right and how it influenced the final result.  Find something to admire about them, and then deconstruct that attribute competitively.

Learn from your defeat.   Blame and denial may feel good, but they never help you learn.  Unless your competitor cheated to win, you were beat either on price, technical ability or fundamentals.  Identify the fundamental rules-of-the-road that you might have broken during the competition.  Isolate the technical reasons that you were “outscored” in the eyes of the customer/judge/scoreboard.  Imagine a rematch, with your revised approach based on your newfound intelligence, where you catch up or pass your rival.

Let it go.  We hold on to our defeats too long, allowing them to magnify and take on mythical status.  If you don’t let go of it, you’ll start playing not to lose instead of to win.  If you don’t let it go, you’ll get beat down and drain energy out of everyone else.  Freaking out is contagious.  So long as you recognize your rival’s strengths and reviewed your approach and execution, it is OK to let the loss go and start thinking about how you’ll do next time.

I bet those in competitive sports follow these tips.  I also believe coaches for team sports subscribe to these approaches.  It’s easy to be a sore loser.  But it’s more productive to be a better loser.  As Tim Sanders summarized, “I’m not suggesting you get comfortable with losing, just be effective in your response to it.”

Well said.

[Excerpts of the article printed without permission. If author contacts me to have excerpts removed, I will do so.] 




4 Responses to “Ways To Be A Better Loser”

  1. 1 Slamdunk March 26, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Excellent advice. It is a lot better than sulking.

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