Losing hurts – but it’s not fatal

It really sucks. Whether is it the Euro final, the Wimbledon championship, or even your class race at school sports day.

Let’s face it losing hurts. It really sucks. Whether is it the Euro final, the Wimbledon championship, or even your class race at school sports day, no one enjoys losing.

But I believe it is vital that we teach children they can lose and be ok. Losing does not make you a loser. Failing does not make you a failure. I think we need to be less afraid of creating events where there are winners and losers and put more emphasis on teaching children not to define themselves by a single moment in time.

And this applies to much more than sport. Job interviews, university places, driving tests and many, many more win/lose – pass/fail moments all serve to remind us that we are more than one result, providing we’ve been taught to deal with wins and losses in a healthy way.

Of course we can look at many fields of endeavour when recognising success. Schools can (and many do) recognise kindness, friendship, leadership and courage as worthy of recognition in the same way as academic or sporting success.

When I work with children teaching Positive Education I often quote Stormzy (and not just for the cool points I earn as a woman “of a certain age” actually knowing Stormzy lyrics). “There’s power in my losses and there’s power in my wins”. Each experience tells you something.

I talk to children about failure lot, overcoming the fear of looking foolish, developing grit to keep going, understanding that failure hurts, but it’s not fatal. I also teach them that if you are going to fail (which you will at some point) then fail greatly, because that means you were daring greatly. You are going to fail at some point, make sure it’s while you are doing something worthwhile. Something big. Something great.

As for those who will criticise you and revel in your loss, then these words from Theordore Roosevelt sum it up nicely.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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