Win or Lose: Get Back to Work
There is value in competition beyond the spoils of war.
If you are determined and diligent in cultivating the skills needed to compete, you give it your all, leave it all on the field, then you can be proud of your effort and performance no matter the outcome.
Earn your competitor’s respect, regardless of who wins.
There are no guarantees — not in business, in sports, or in politics. We cannot control every factor or predict every outcome. No man can anticipate every move, every second- and third-order effect. We will win sometimes, and we will suffer many defeats.
Like so many things in life, it’s not the “what” that matters but the “how.” What you do for a living matters less than how you do it. What you say often matters less than how you say it. What you believe matters less than how you exercise it.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”— Epictetus
Winning and losing is the what. How you win and lose is what defines character.
“Strive to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.” — Boots Williams
To gloat in victory is to spoil its sweetness. Savor it privately.
To sulk in defeat reveals a weakness of character. If you don’t know how to carry defeat, you don’t yet deserve to win.
Winning and losing isn’t the be-all in life. There are endless battles to fight, and no one victory or defeat defines who we are. At the end of the day, who we are is a matter of the effort we put in, the merit of the ends we seek, and how we respond to the outcome. Arguably, more is revealed in a man’s character in victory than defeat. I would argue that the revelation should be the same regardless of the outcome.
Your response to a win should be no different than your response to a loss: the right thing to do is to get back to work. When you lose, you study where your training fell short, where your skill needed tweaking, and where your plan fell apart. You study where your opponent prevailed, the weaknesses he targeted, the game plan he followed. You train hardest where you are weakest, because that is the only way man evolves. When you win, your competition is studying how.
In both instances, you have to keep improving.
Go to bed tired from your daily toil, proud of your daily contribution, and thankful for what you have, what you have earned, and what you have to fight for in the morning.