What Successful People Know About Winning-by: John C. Maxwell

My friend Robert Schuller once asked, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” That’s a great question, an inspiring question. When most people hear it, they start dreaming. They are motivated to reach for their goals and to risk more.

I have a question that I think is just as important: What do you learn when you fail?

While people are usually ready to talk about their dreams, they are less prepared to answer a question about their shortcomings. Most people don’t like to talk about their mistakes and failures. They don’t want to confront their losses. They are embarrassed by them. And when they do find themselves falling short, they may find themselves saying something trite, such as “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.” The message is, “Hope to win, expect to lose, and live with the results either way.”

What’s wrong with that? It’s not how winners think!

Successful people know the way to turn a setback into a step forward. How? They don’t try to brush failure under the rug. They don’t run away from their losses. They learn from them. Every time. They understand that life’s greatest lessons are gained from our losses—if we approach them the right way. Mistakes are acceptable as long as the damage isn’t too great. Or as they say in Texas, “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose your cow!”

Why Losses Hurt So Much

In life, sometimes you do win. But other times you get knocked down. The key is to figure out why you got knocked down, learn from it, get back up, and move forward. That’s how successful people win.

Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “It’s only a game”? I bet if you have, it was from someone who was losing. Nobody likes to lose. Think of some of the losses in your life and how they made you feel. Not good. And it’s not just the pain of the moment that affects us. Our losses also cause us other difficulties. Here are a few:

1. Losses Cause Us to Be Emotionally Stuck

Author and speaker Les Brown says, “The good times we put in our pocket. The bad times we put in our heart.” I have found that to be true in my life. In my heart I still carry some of the bad times. I bet you do, too. The negative experiences affect us more deeply than positive ones, and if you’re like me, you may get emotionally stuck. Anxiety and fear are debilitating emotions for the human heart. So are losses. They can weaken, imprison, paralyze, dishearten, and sicken us. To be successful, we need to find ways to get unstuck emotionally.

2. Losses Cause Us to Be Mentally Defeated

It cannot be denied that our lives are filled with loss. Over the course of our adult lives, we lose jobs and positions. Our self-esteem may take a beating. We lose money. We miss opportunities. Friends and family die. And I don’t even want to talk about some of the physical losses we experience with advancing age! Some losses are large; some are small. And the losses we face affect our mental health. Some people handle it well, while others don’t.

The quality that distinguishes a successful person from an unsuccessful one who is otherwise like him is the capacity to manage disappointment and loss. Too often losing goes to our heads. It defeats us, and we have trouble coming up with solutions to our challenges. As the losses build up, they become more of a burden. We regret the losses of yesterday. We fear the losses of tomorrow. Regret saps our energy. We can’t build on regret. Fear for the future distracts us and fills us with apprehension.

We want success, but we should instead train for losses. We need to expect mistakes, failures, and losses in life, since each of us will face many of them. But we need to take them as they come, not allow them to build up.

This article is Part #1/2, and written by: John C. Maxwell.