Losing To Win
So here we are, entering the season of cooler weather as summer winds down and where I'm from, the football madness starts. And mind you, New Orleans is like many of those football-obsessed places where fan jerseys are high fashion and tailgating is a way of life, except we mix in our unique culture, a few shrimp po-boys, gumbo, red beans and rice which levels it up several notches!
Everywhere you go in NOLA on a Friday, you will see just about everyone dressed in black and gold, the colors of our beloved Saints. Not only that, but we get our nails done black and gold, we wear fleur de lis jewelry, black and gold wigs, costumes...yeah, it's a thing ya'll!
We also have LSU and Tulane University so you will see your fair share of purple and gold or green and white for college games on Saturday. Bars are packed out as the community gathers for the camaraderie of watching the game, eating New Orleans specialties and throwing back their beverage of choice.
Neighborhoods are packed with cars as residents host game parties for friends and family. And what are we all rallying for? A win! In the fall, New Orleans is a city obsessed with winning.
But that's nothing new. We live in a society obsessed with winning and hey, winning is great! Think about your wins. Don't you love it when you come out on top? When you've achieved your goal or surpassed everyone you were trying to beat or got that promotion or better yet, that raise?
Don't you feel empowered, victorious, happy? I do for sure. Winning means you're making it. You are gaining ground in the world. Victories prove upward trajectory, no downward slopes here!
Success also has a way of giving you the courage to try the next thing, the next idea. When things are going your way, you get a bit of relief from the pressures of life.
Winning, this idea of being first, coming out on top, being best, has become a part of the fabric of our culture. Getting out into the world to make things happen for yourself is an understood principle, acquired from the time when we are just kids.
We received constant messages about what it means to win and that losing should be avoided as much as possible. "Winners never quit, and quitters never win." "If at first, you don't succeed, try try again." Sometimes, we were pressured to win, at sports, with grades, for acceptance to college, and many adults are now wrestling with all the inadequacy issues birthed from not being able to hit specific targets.
Losers - no one wants to be them. The tag is given not only to the team that doesn't win a game, but to people who are seemingly not succeeding in life. Being considered a loser, or feeling like one is a death blow to your self-esteem and how you see your possibilities. Your options seem diminished, and it is tough to feel good about yourself.
We avoid the association with losing or feeling defeated like the plague. After all, the thought of other people thinking of us in this way is cringe-worthy. So we crave the wins and hate the losses. But did you know losing can be great for you?
A few months ago on the Soul Sayers podcast, we did a show entitled, "Committed, Passionate, Accomplished Loser Needed." And in it, we discussed the need to win, despising losing, and the losses we tolerate. Everything from loose change and our stuff to people and relationships.
Like you, I've had many wins and losses in my life. When I look back, I see that I became accustomed to the victories, and took some of them for granted. I also came to expect success, even when I wasn’t fully prepared or ready for it, which is never promised for everything in this life, . If you are a person with the ability to create successful outcomes, you understand the ease of developing a false sense of security about anything you put your hands to because you assume it will work.
When the losses came, I was devastated. I was not used to failure. Sometimes we aren't used to losing because we don't put ourselves out there at all, but that is for another day.
But here's where it got interesting. Those losses, especially the big ones, forced me to examine some things about myself and in those moments, I saw there were things I needed to lose. Beliefs or ideas that did not serve me well, which I knew were there but constantly avoided because letting them go felt like quitting, and quitters were losers in my book. So I stubbornly clung to them, thinking maybe some of it would change or go away. Or that if I just left it all there and not deal with it, I could overcompensate somewhere else to balance it all out.
Finally, little by little, I was able to pry my fingers open one at a time, allowing these negative things in me to slip out and away. And it was then that I learned the necessity, the importance of losing. Relinquishing things that needed to go. Giving up on long-held habits or beliefs that were bad for me. And when I did so, the way I felt about myself transformed, and broken placed were healed. I learned to take a hit to gain an advantage. I learned to release things to make room for greater things.
I understood the concept of losing to win. And here are some of the things I said goodbye to, and the new places of victory I'm working on getting to:
Losing the need to have everything perfect
And to try and be perfect
Losing the need for approval
Wanting to fit in
Throwing away self-doubt
Fake people - Letting them go
Getting lost in curiosity and discovery
Go missing in Creation
Disappearing in the love of God.
And when that's done -
I will have finally found myself!
And my hope is that you too, will be willing to lose to win. That whatever needs to be gone from your life can be let go. That you can release and also reclaim parts of yourself to move forward.
If you are interested in hearing more about our discussion of this topic, visit "Committed, Passionate, Accomplished Loser Needed." Also, please subscribe and share the show with people you care about and help us grow the community!
Peace & Blessings