My Dad taught me from a young age to befriend failure – it’s a far better teacher than success. To this day I have only ever won a board, card or sports game when I have genuinely managed to outwit him. I learnt that hard work and challenges are inevitable in life. That they always teach me something, when I raise my awareness above the duality of win or lose. As the world mirrors back to us with messages, so my Dad too gently guided with idle questions as we played; so that I’d look closer, change position or consider other options.
I grew up learning that I don’t always get what I want, that it’s ok when that happens, that winning is sweet – but brief – and that its impossible to lose without learning something; if you pay attention. In this way, he encouraged me to define success by myself (rather than let others do it for me). To accept loss as part of life – difficult – though not world-ending.
Winners are raised up by those that challenge them. Rather than the combative stance of us versus them, he taught me that it’s an exchange. There can be gain on both sides. I remember the cheer of victory he gave – regardless of who won – and the meeting in the middle (under the washing line) to shake hands. It led me towards great people and away from intolerable situations. To look for scenarios where everyone is a winner, and that a worthy opponent is worth your respect. I take this mindset into anything I tackle.
Everywhere there is opportunity to benefit others with our success and grow up to our edges and push them further, with our losses. Whenever I’m creating, failure is along for the ride. I abandon what isn’t working, mark where improvement is needed and dive back in. Because the world won’t actually end if I make something rubbish. And success isn’t defined solely by our creations. Our treatment of others and nature, our efforts and fulfillment, these and many more things, define success. The process will teach me regardless. Maybe what I share will bring joy to or help someone. I aim for the scenario where everyone’s a victor; knowing the sting of failure without fearing it.
And always, I follow the Tao of Dad – be humble both in victory and defeat – though winner buys the coffees 😛