Success without Strings Attached

Without losing, there is no winning

Frederick Dodson

Frederick Dodson

“What if I don’t make it as a singer? I’d feel like a loser. Maybe I should pursue something more realistic” a student recently told me. The word “loser” stuck out at me. Losing is one thing, defining oneself as “a loser” a whole other. With a sense of compassion, I responded:

A loser is not someone who loses a challenge, it is someone who doesn’t even try, out of fear of losing”.

I lose a lot. That’s a good sign. It means I don’t shy away, I participate. Not participating in life because you fear losing, is much worse than losing. 

I enter a sports match against players much better than I. Even though I know I will probably lose. Why? Why not just avoid the humiliation? Because I can learn the most against opponents who are better than I. Only the insecure require everything to be “safe and easy” – all that cozy comfort won’t help you grow. There is much to learn in losing and “not making it”.

Sometimes I take on projects that might overwhelm me at first. Or I enter projects that might not make me much money. I don’t mind “losing”, because of this:

Any inventor failed a thousand times before they had a breakthrough.

Any baseball player had a thousand misses before they hit a home run.

Any money investor can tell of hundreds of misses before they learned how the market works.

But if you’re afraid of losing, you won’t allow yourself to fail even once. And then you can never learn the game. So you can never succeed at it. So it is true that…

Losing is a part of Success!

I win some, I lose some, but I keep playing. Even if I lose, I learn and grow. I get stronger. If I hadn’t played to begin with, there is no growing.

If my student pursues a singing career, she will either make it as  singer, which is a win, or she won’t. Then she will learn. Which is also a win. Either way, she wins.

It’s not win or lose, it’s win or learn. 

With this philosophy, you leave no space or possibility for failure. Instead of discouraging competition because you are afraid of there being a “loser”, you realize that every experience is of value. Success is not an event, it’s a process that contains many “wins” and “losses”.  But success can only happen by entering games, projects, tasks, contexts, realities. So do not avoid challenges, social encounters, new tasks, new jobs and a couple of risks, be eager to play.

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