When I’m talking to my kids after they’ve lost a competition, I try to ask them about the feelings that arise post-defeat – as opposed to criticising the sense of competitiveness itself. It’s a healthy thing to try and strive to improve in life, and competition is a great motivator for that. What defines you is how you respond to failure. That’s where this anti-competitiveness comes from – it’s people choosing how they deal with their fears.
Football clubs are constantly educating players to understand and learn from failed experiences, whether it be a loss or a poor individual performance. You’re always going to learn more from your failures than your wins. That’s just human nature. If you come out on top you’re usually not as driven to analyse what happened and learn from it as closely as you would post-defeat – your natural reaction is to congratulate yourself on how warm and fuzzy you’re feeling.
Defeat represents an opportunity to learn and to grow – that’s the practicality of losing. If you don’t get something you want – whether that’s a win, or a job, or a new relationship – it’s okay to feel a short period of loss. But once that period becomes extended, then it’s no longer productive. Those feelings of loss will just keep appearing if you let them. Or in the words of a business mentor of mine from WA, ‘you get 24 hours to sook, then it’s time to move on’.