The Richard Nicholls Podcast

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Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser

It sucks being a loser.
Everyone wants to win and it seems to have become built into our culture that failure is not an option.
But it is!
As a 9 month old child how many times would we have fallen over when learning to walk?
How many mistakes did we make when learning to speak?
How many answers did we get wrong in our tests at school?
And how many job applications do we have to send out before even getting an interview, let alone offered a job?
As the old Chinese proverb says “Fall down seven times and get up eight”.
I remember when my son was younger and learning how to play Draughts, we got into this pattern that meant we seemed to be taking it in turns to win. Every time he lost, the next game was a little slower as he concentrated more. Every time he won, the next game was over quickly as his confidence was high so he rushed through the moves without thinking and would then lose.

Making mistakes, experiencing setbacks, and enduring failure is a normal and frequent part of our life. Yet some people see making mistakes as so wrong that they miss out on the benefits of failing. Failing can give us as many benefits as succeeding does. It helps us to identify where we went wrong and what we would need to do differently next time. Mistakes enable us to develop a smarter approach to manage our daily challenges and so creates a resilient personality trait that ensures we get through life with a smile on our face even if we didn’t get the job that we’d wanted or the house that we’d set our hopes on.

Sometimes a setback can be so huge that it seems unsurmountable and I often take inspiration from other people when I come upon those sorts of situations.
Karoly Takacs was a Hungarian Army Sergeant and one of the world’s top pistol shooters, set to get a gold medal in every competition, until a faulty hand grenade destroyed his right hand and stopped him in his tracks, so what did he do? He spent a year learning how to shoot with his left hand until he got it perfect, and then won gold after gold.

Natalie du Toit was a promising 17 year old swimmer expected to compete at Olympic level until a motorbike accident meant a leg would need amputating. Yet despite not being able to swim even 100 yards she refused to give up. She worked at her technique and at the next Olympics competed in a 6 mile race with able-bodied athletes and beat 8 of them.
And Tony Iommi, the guitarist from Black Sabbath, he almost gave up on the guitar aged 17 when he lost the tips of his fingers in an accident at work, but learned to play again with the help of some fake finger tips that he’d made from melting down an old washing up bottle. It took him a lot of practise to relearn how to play and in doing so invented a whole new sound by loosening the strings so that he could play them properly which led to the deep and grungy Heavy Metal sound.

Sometimes failure IS an option so embrace the loser in you and see where it takes you!