Indulge me for a moment while I briefly discuss sports. American sports. Specifically, American football. I promise I’ll make it brief.
In 2008, the New England Patriots went to the Super Bowl, facing the New York Giants. New England waltzed into the Super Bowl having not lost a single game in the entire 16 game regular season, giving them a 18-0 record going into the big game. New York was facing this undefeated team after squeezing into the playoffs as a wildcard with a regular season record of 10-6.
Needless to say, the Patriots were heavily favored to win the Super Bowl. Yet New York was able to beat them in the big game 17-14.
Here’s my belief in the outcome of that game. Had the Patriots lost a game in the regular season they would have probably won the Superbowl.
Nobody save the psychological masochist or the celebrated victim likes to lose. Losing rends from us the last shred of self-confidence we clung to for survival during our final battle. The higher the stakes of the contest, the harder the gut punch we receive with a loss.
The biggest losses we experience, or let me be so bold to say nearly every loss we experience, comes through necessity. When we experience defeat it is a defeat that is necessary and often overdue. The loss tells us that our current trajectory of growth has plateaued, that there was really nothing more for us to gain with a win, and that it is our destiny to rediscover ourselves.
Does a win compel us to look inward to the degree that a loss does? Does one win create as great of an appetite for victory as does our most recent defeat? Now mind you, this is not to say we should make sure we lose or that we should deliberately lay down our swords in the midst of combat just for the sake of experiencing a loss. Au contraire, we should play to the hilt even knowing the odds are stacked against us, for when we lose in light of this, our loss creates an even greater opportunity for us to grow, beyond where we would have otherwise.