How to win and lose well.
You can see it in someone’s eyes at times, especially in the eyes of children. There is a longing, a deep emotional battle taking place that shows itself in tense physical signals; clenching of the fists, tears welling up in the eyes, a furrowing of the brow, or a pursing of the lips. You see it as the stakes rise and victory is within reach.
Then you flip the draw four card on them or the sorry card, or you sink their battleship.
It’s funny how much emotion can get wrapped up into a game, yet it happens to a lot of us, and it is something that I’m pretty sure all kids go through on their path to maturity. As an adult, I still have these moments once in a while, I mean who doesn’t want to be lord of Catan? In children though, the process is much more interesting because they are experiencing raw emotion, and they are learning valuable life lessons along the way.
No one enters into a competition intending to lose, but we can enter into with the understanding that someone will lose. This way of thinking helps maintain perspective, and in some ways, teaches us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. When we can grasp that everyone at the table, on the field, on the court, or on the stage wants to win, then we find our common ground. Common ground builds camaraderie, and common struggle builds bonds.
When we are for each other, it creates a healthy sense of competition; and in that space is where we learn how to become humble victors and resilient losers.
For children, learning how to lose well is just as important as learning how to win, because it teaches resilience. The path to mastery is paved with resilience. We must push through pain, put in the time, and put ourselves out there for critique if we truly desire to become great. Failure is part of the journey, but the choice to try again is what makes us strong. Realizing that all who compete have traveled on this path to some extent also helps stay humble in victory, as we understand the pain that comes with a loss, and the fortitude needed to try again.
The humble victors and resilient losers are the people who inspire. They are the people who we want to have in our life because their character is strong. These are the people who we want to continue to engage with. It’s fun to compete with and against others who find joy in the means and not just the end, the struggle just as much as the outcome. Whether it’s board games or sports, we can help our kids learn how to be the humble victors and resilient losers that become the movers and changers of the world.