Overcoming defeat, the right way

FLICKR | Photo Courtesy
Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off is an art.

Losing is not just for losers, it’s the lesson we all need right now

Sometimes in life, we get handed lemons and can get to work making some good lemonade. We imagine what the lemonade will taste like and for years get ready to start the process. Other times, all we get is a handshake and a gentle reminder that this time, the thing we wanted didn’t go our way. 

That’s life and it really sucks. Not only because we feel the sting of defeat but we also mourn the loss of success. In many ways, this year has been a defeat for all of us, lost jobs, lost opportunities and canceled events have become the norm.

We need remedies for this, ways to satiate our defeat and move on. Here are three properties I have found that work best for this situation.


This is for the initial shock, the denial of the situation. We need a way to come to our senses without overloading them. Overburdening ourselves could lead to dangerous activities or outright denial of the circumstances. Both of these will usually just make it harder to move on and feel better eventually.

So, find what makes you the happiest. To be honest, if that thing is slightly destructive in the moment, no one will judge. If you need ideas, look to the past, what did you like to do as a kid? Probably something mindless like video games or climbing trees, both are great options for distraction.


If a company tells you that you’re not qualified for the position, then gracefully acknowledge the shortcomings and quietly work to improve. This is not only the correct way to accept defeat, many times it is the only way. The alternative makes one look worse and further cement your shortcomings in the eyes of everyone.

This is hard, but gracefully excepting defeat makes you look stronger. Looking like a sore loser only grants your adversaries a license for criticism or pity. Accepting your loss, on the other hand, will either boost your credibility for future endeavors or allow you to slip into anonymity, which is often a gift.

Use your defeat

Your defeat is almost the perfect excuse to create a new narrative about your life for future interviews, Ted talks or podcast interviews (depending on how big of a deal it was). You may have people counting on you to win in some circumstances, that’s where this narrative comes into play.

The people who are supporting you are not just counting on your victory, their counting on your character, your resolve to keep fighting despite excepting one defeat. Winning and losing are not just dichotomies. You can have an unsatisfying win, and a satisfying loss, or a mutually beneficial contest. It’s just up to how the participants frame and accept their given dispositions.

Generally, it is not worth it, to make life a competition. Like, if you’re talking with someone and realize slowly they are better or smarter at something than you are, that is not a defeat, no one has won anything or lost anything. I created this article because I know that it’s almost impossible to think this clearly all the time.

We want to be the best, not only in the big competitions but in everyday life as well. This is one of the reasons we avoid the advice or training of people who may know more than us. I know this is the reason for some of my shortcomings and I want to work on that. 

This is also a means of control. When we are sted-fast in our convictions and leave no other doors open, there’s a reason for that. We don’t want to accept personal “defeat” so we only listen to those who agree with us. 

The best way I can say to combat this response is to stay curious and open your mind to other world views. We need to stay curious and stay humble in order to create any sort of beauty in this world.

Leave a Reply