I compete as much as I can. I do it because I love how it helps me put my game into perspective.
But sometimes I lose. In fact, sometimes I lose in ways that make me turn around and go “What the hell just happened?” Sometimes I lose to opponents that I had stuck in tight submissions, or to opponents that I don’t think I should have lost to.
And you know what? It’s tough to learn from those experiences because of what they do to my psyche.
Over the weekend I competed at a local tournament. I had 10 matches, 4 of which I lost. I brought home two silver medals and a bronze. I am not thrilled with my performance, but I took something away from each match, regardless of the outcome.
The reality is that the more you compete, the more likely you are to lose. But at the same time, the better you will do on average. That is to say: if you only compete once every now and again, your performance will likely not be as good as if you compete every other weekend, but if you compete every other weekend your chances of running into an opponent capable of beating you will be higher.
So how do you consolidate the emotions of losing, the learning process that occurs therein, and the reality of its inevitability? No, seriously! This isn’t a rhetorical question!!!
For me, the most important part of losing is not letting it discourage me. Very often, my first loss of the day is not my last match of the day. There have been times when my first loss of the day preceded many victories, and if I let a loss kill my mojo, I might as well pack up and go home.
I also need to make sure that I remember what the loss feels like. I need to really take it in to help me understand why it is that I love to win so much. This may sound stupid or redundant, but it’s actually a really important aspect of competition. Loss makes victory that much sweeter.
On the exact same token, knowing what it feels like to lose helps fuel my drive to win. If I take nothing else from a loss, if the loss was inevitable and unavoidable, at least I can use it to motivate me. Not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone processes loss the same way. But when you compete, you should identify objectives and set goals to make the experience productive. Otherwise, you’re just entering a futile contest.
Some victories are sweeter than others, and some losses are more crushing. But at the end of the day, if you’re a competitor, you’d better bring your losses and victories home with you, process them, and use them to make yourself stronger for next time.