I love winning. Who doesn’t right? In my younger days, I would turn most things into a competition. Who am I kidding, most things are a competition when you are growing up. This played right into my often mischievous hands.
As kids in school, we compete for sports, grades, and popularity. Not necessarily in that order. As adults we compete for jobs and increased pay. Heck, even as bloggers we are competing for attention.
And we all want to win.
But what I find more fascinating as an adult is how individuals handle losses. How well do you bounce back after failure? Even little hits to the ego are sometimes hard to get over.
It’s Hard To Find Pride In Losses
Funny (now) story from back in the college days. Sometime during my second or third year, I was looking for an extracurricular activity that would keep me in shape and feed my competitive hunger. Along with a roommate, we decided to join the local boxing club and ultimately became amateur boxers.
Growing up in a fairly small community, I was used to being the alpha male. A big fish in a small pond basically when it came to anything relating to athletics. Not trying to brag, it’s just how it was and yes it did inflate the ego.
So back to the boxing thing. On our first visit, I took particular notice of one guy. Dudes sometimes size each other up, that’s what we do. I could tell he was in tip top shape, i.e., ripped. But plenty of guys look like that. It really has no bearing on power or in this case, boxing skill.
I watched him spar with another guy in practice. He didn’t look like anything too special at the time. It wasn’t long after joining that it was my turn to spar with him. No problem, I got this!
I didn’t have this.
Almost every punch I threw was either blocked, or countered. I can recall one in particular that was perfectly timed to my rib cage just as I was fully extending a right hook that missed of course. A new respect for body punches was formed that day, they always seem underwhelming when you watch on TV. And the guy never got tired.
Safe to say my confidence and ego took losses every time I had to spar with him. I really dreaded getting into the ring with that machine. My nose would start bleeding on and off throughout the day because of his punishment. Little did I know the caliber of athlete I was competing with at the time. The coach failed to mention that he was one win away in the Golden Gloves Nationals from being in the Olympics the year before. My oh my.
There is Always Someone Better Out There
I somewhat felt better about myself when I found out that news. I mean I knew I wasn’t Olympic caliber for crying out loud. That guy went on to turn pro but you know what? He never really lived up to his potential. He won his share but never hit the big time. This just goes to show the talent level of the best of the best. If he wasn’t good enough to make it…. He went up against tougher competition and ran into people that were better.
There is always someone better.
Money is kind of the same way. Just when you think you have a pretty decently sized net worth, there is always someone out there that is your age or younger with twice as much.
The sooner you can accept this, the better off you will be in life. Nobody likes losing or having less but there are always positives to be taken from it. You don’t have to be elite to feel good about yourself.
Taking Losses Provides Opportunities to Learn and Motivate
My very first brokerage investment was a 100% loss. It was a pump and dump penny stock that I fell for hook line and sinker. But that $400 moment of stupidity made me wise up, forget trying to make a quick buck, and forced me into doing my homework. And it made me a better investor because of it.
I actually kept the remnants of the penny stock in my account so I could stare at it everyday. I wanted it ingrained in my head every singly time I looked into my brokerage account. Only recently did I exorcise the demon from years ago and clear it out of the holdings.
I went from reading bogus penny stock forums to reading books by Buffett, Peter Lynch, and Professor Jeremy Siegel. My whole outlook on investing changed from that one life lesson. I was embarrassed and never wanted to have this happen again. And it hasn’t.
When I think back on life, I’m glad I did the majority of my bigger screw ups while being young. There is plenty of time to recover and really you don’t have that much to lose in most cases. The lessons are far more valuable than the monetary losses.