Be A Gracious Loser

With the election behind us, we as Americans have a lot of sleep to catch up on. Even if your television and social media accounts were not all working overtime, when you factor in the time change and the sugar overload from Halloween, sleep was the last thing getting checked off the to-do list. And speaking of to-do lists, the holidays are right around the corner, so I’m guessing our sleep patterns won’t be getting better anytime soon.

With all the excitement swirling around us, it’s essential to take a moment to stop and learn a life lesson or two from the things we witness. It is also crucial to pass these lessons on to our children. When my girls were little, everything was a teaching moment. My daughters are 26 & 29 now, and I still discuss things with them because sharing is caring and because you are never too old to learn. However, I have to admit I feel like they teach me more than I teach them. 

As I watched the election results this weekend, I began to think about losing. I thought about the propositions I had voted on and if “mine” won. I also thought about the people running for government positions—the money and time spent on their campaigns. The lives put on hold to meet and greet constituents. The manpower it must have taken to send out all those mailers. Let me repeat ALL THOSE MAILERS! Each of the candidates truly believed they were the right person for the job. Each was believing their stance was the most honest and accurate. They surrounded themselves with people who also thought they were the right person for the job. Ultimately, in the end, there was going to be a loser.

I wondered if they prepared themselves for the possibility of losing? Had they thought about how they might feel if the majority of the population did not agree with their views? Had they taken the time to write their concession speech? Would they congratulate the winner and let them know it was a good battle, and the best man/woman won? What would they do after the election? Would they support their opponent? Work towards the greater cause? All of this should be part of the game plan, but do we ever plan on losing?

When do we learn how to play the game? One of our life’s most valuable lessons is how to lose. We use this skill every day, and it’s imperative to master the skill of moving forward after a loss instead of wallowing in self-pity and destruction. I believe parents should be one of the first to teach and explain that losing is an acceptable part of life. No one can be right or win every time. Acknowledging the loss or conceding to a better idea does not weaken you. There can only be one winner, and losing does not make you less of a person.

Losing does highlight areas to focus on, re-evaluate, and strengthen. Losing can show incredible character and grit. When we choose to be a poor loser, no one wins. You not only make yourself look like a poor sport, weak, selfish, and childish, you take away the true nature of the game or sport, a fun source of positive emotions, like curiosity, optimism, and creativity. While you are building your leadership, teamwork, and communication skills during the game or race, you immediately lose all gains when you refuse to admit defeat. The natural stress reliever of the game will invade your mind, body, and soul until you no longer recognize yourself.

Loss can be an influential teacher to both the winner, loser, and spectators. So play fair, fight the good fight, enjoy the game, shake hands, and congratulate the winner when all is said and done. That’s how to be a gracious loser.

“Anyone can be a gracious winner, but being gracious after losing shows strength of character.” — Donald Lynn Frost 


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