How To Lose?

A Mental Guide To Winning

Pratik Parookaran

Pratik Parookaran

Business Development Intern,
Habbinson International

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How to break mental barriers and win

WINNING… is there a better ego-booster out there?  Who does not want to win? Race, caste, gender, status do not matter. This feeling comes naturally to one and all. It does not have to be a real competition to have this basic instinct. Since we are born, we are competing with others. Competing for parental affection, ranks in schools, approval of mentors, outdoing our peers, and so on. And these are moral victories for us. They make us happy and give us a sense of pride. We carry this notion all through our lives, and our victory, even though temporary, is our ultimate goal. We want to succeed and win at everything, which definitely is not a bad thing. After all, that is what keeps us going. Keeps us motivated. And it is addictive. 

But what is a win? 

To have a target and getting it accomplished? Or is it just making progress? Or about outdoing others? It could have a different meaning for every person, and every situation. In the end, it all comes down to what satisfies us. And hence, we have numerous books, articles, podcasts, sessions, and even courses to guide us to the path of winning. But what about the flipside? What happens if you do not win? You lose.

Winning and losing are two sides of the same coin, and there will come many instances to toss this coin. Then why have we just been taught to win and bask in the glory of our success, with so little emphasis on suffering in the obscurity of our failures? Why have we not focused enough on how to deal with loss? All the greats have experienced failures. They have repeatedly told us how success only came to them after dealing with multiple failures. Still many times, we lack the strength to get back up and have faith. The higher the stakes, the more crushing our losses, sometimes breaking us inside out. A feeling of helplessness entangles us, with self-blame and guilt. These are the moments when we become our own worst enemy. Learning to deal with loss is extremely important before learning to win.

Big Hopes! Is That It?

According to a survey by Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics, 90% of Indian start-ups fail within the first 5 years. Majority of these never come back into the picture. Every start-up starts out with big hopes. Hopes of winning and conquering the world. It all seems plausible and we are high on optimism. And again, this optimism is what keeps us going. However, we are unable to handle the failure of a venture that we have become so emotionally involved with.

Every year, we hear of student tragedies due to academic pressure. The inability to deal with this pressure leaves them with no choice. Failing to live up to the expectations that have been set up by others. The shame involved again leads them back to self-blame and viewing the entirety of life, past and future, all in the present moment.

The world of arts. Another cut-throat area, where talent, network and also luck play a huge role in determining our success. The odds are low, and rejection is common. But not everyone can bear this rejection. Not everyone is mentally prepared to see their dreams getting crushed.

Such cases are common in every field. Failure, rejection, loss, even though not the end of the world, still does feel like it at times. We do not see things for what they are. Narrowing down the basis of our life on a singular aspect, that is what magnifies the whole effect. We need to start looking at life as a whole. One or even many failures should not define us. 

What Defines Us?

Our definition of ourselves is also our outlook on others. That is what forms the collective outlook of our society, the same society whose judgements we fear. We need to realize that everything is temporary. Success, loss, grief, happiness, fun, fear, they are phases of life. They will come and go. We just need to try and make the best of the time we have. Trying is more important than achieving. As long as we have tried our best, there is no reason to be disappointed. Because we did what we could, and there are a lot of external factors involved apart from our own work into it. And if we did not try our best, then why are we even disappointed? We learnt our lesson, we got our experiences, and now it is time to move on to the next chapter wiser.

And who decides if we have won or lost, apart from ourselves. For the moment, maybe there are fingers pointing and our win or loss has come under the scanner of few. But how long before they stop caring. Surely, they will forget it much sooner than us, so why cannot we stop worrying and move on sooner. The simple fact that the past is gone, and we would not live it again. The present and future are all that we can control, so why not just focus on that with re-energized will-power and strength.

Everyone likes to hear winning stories, where obstacles were overcome, and failures were turned into victories. The reason we love these stories is because we can relate to it, and it gives us hope for changing the course of our lives. We can see our self in the character, grinding and breaking all barriers that were set upon us. It is a difficult task to stay motivated by stories all the time. Hence, it must be instilled within us like a habit. It should be the default course we take whenever we face any kind of loss in life. Schools and colleges and even parents must impart these values in kids right from childhood. The light at the end of the tunnel must always be visible. This attitude to deal with failure will pave the road to our most famous victories ahead.

After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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