photo credit: jugrote
“But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.” ~ Paulo Coelho
Defeat. We’ve all been there. That moment when we’ve lost something we really wanted. Maybe it was a big game you played in as a child. Or maybe it was a job promotion you were working toward. Or maybe it was your moment to perform on stage. Or maybe it was the new life your wedding would bring. Or maybe it was the life of a loved one.
Defeat. We’ve all been there, and we’ll be there again. I was there this past weekend. The soccer team I coach was playing in a tournament at our village’s summer festival. We had a team of excited nine year old boys, ready to conquer the world (or, at least the first team we played). Were we ever in for a surprise. As a team, we have usually done pretty good – win a few, lose a few. But most games are fairly close. Not today. The other team was much more prepared and sharp. And before we knew it, we were down by nearly ten goals. By halftime, our boys were exhausted and defeated. And we still had the second half to play. We went back out, and as the game wore on, you could just see our team giving up. It was the most difficult game I have coached. A day that had started so positive, had quickly turned dark.
After the game, we talked about our effort, and how we can’t give up. Even in the face of insurmountable odds. We were there to play, and that’s what we do for the full fifty minutes. We left the game with our heads hanging a little lower than I wanted. And, we still had another game in a couple of hours.
The resiliency of kids! They bounced back for the second game. For the most part, everyone had seemed to have moved on from our earlier loss (except for me). In the end, we also lost the second game, but it was a much closer (and more fun) game.
Defeat. Why couldn’t I give it up? I was stuck on the fact that the other team was older than us, probably played in a more select soccer league during the regular season, and just plain played harder out there.
Defeat. I wanted to win. And I felt like we were ganged up on by a team that was better and older. And I didn’t think it was fair. But the truth is, that’s life. Sometimes we’ll be in situations where life doesn’t seem fair, and we’ll lose. And this can be difficult. Difficult to accept. Difficult to get over.
There are great lessons we learn in defeat. Probably greater lessons than those we learn in victory. If we are open to seeing and accepting these lessons. So, look at defeat as an opportunity to learn and grow. The fields of defeat are filled with many life lessons.
After some time to reflect on our soccer defeat, I feel more insecure as a coach. But I’m looking at that as a good thing. Good in that I know we have so much room for improvement. And that will be my job as we go into the fall season. Find ways to develop our players so they can compete at a higher level. And help them to understand that what makes us great is working together as a team and not giving up.
Defeat. Embrace your defeats. To this I don’t mean that I hope you lose your job, or don’t get to play in a championship game, or have a broken marriage. To this I mean that when defeat finds you, embrace the opportunity to learn from the mistakes you’ve made. Make a real effort to understand what happened, and look for ways you can improve.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
So, dare the mighty things you desire in your life. Go out there and live. Know that sometimes you will be defeated in some of the things you want most. And know that that is ok. It makes our lives richer to have experienced failure and success. Your life is yours to live – live it to the fullest!