Seriously, what’s wrong with failure?

“Reality television” has long been questioned as to how “real” it really is but as I finished watching the American Gladiator finale another question popped into my head: What are we saying about success and failure? All I heard last night and I’ve heard it again and again on other shows is this inability to admit defeat. There were only 2 winners and champions of the American Gladiator finale (oddly enough they were both wearing red.) However, it was the runner up’s “I know I’m a champion and a winner for getting this far!” that totally threw me off. I was actually in a spritefully good mood but something in me cried, “NO, no you’re not! You just lost! SHE WON.” That may sound really harsh and rude but I don’t see anything inherently wrong with losing. The other runner up wanted everyone to know that, “If you work hard and set your mind to it you can accomplish your dreams!” So, your dream was to finish second place? I mean, I know these contestants are in the moment and spouting stuff out of the top of their heads so I give them some slack but people, you lost and you wanted to place 1st not 2nd, let’s be real here.

I keep seeing this come up and I have to ask the question: What’s wrong with failure? Since when did everyone become winners? I failed alot, I mean ALOT! I still do but it’s the ability to recognize my shortcomings and where I need to spend some time developing myself that I’m able to grow and become better. If I “win” at everything then I’m not really seeing reality. I’m not truly seeing what success is and that means I’m not truly seeing myself for what I’m worth and that means I can’t grow! I stay complacently coming in 2nd or 3rd place and calling myself a winner just because I tried hard? Sometimes, trying hard still means you fail. It’s a litmus test to show you that you may not be cut out for what you’re trying hard to do. It may mean you need to outsource something and rely on someone else. It may mean you need to buckle down and train harder so you can work harder. It doesn’t mean you won.

I also want to say, in a hopefully non-cheesey way if possible, that winning isn’t everything. Don’t get me wrong, it’s typically the goal! I mean it’s what we’re striving for: the dash in the W column, the pat on the back, the title, the recognition, the fame, the pay raise, the girl. No matter if you win or loose though you have to face reality at the end of the day. What were your means to that end? What was your sportsmanship like? What was your attitude? What were your ethics and morals like? Sometimes there’s alot to be satisfied in a loss. There’s so much to be thankful for in a miss when you look back on it having made the right the decisions. I just don’t want to get into the mindset that Everyone’s a Winner because Winning is Everything. It kind of makes me disgusted.

Don’t misinterpret this post as a bag on the runner ups of American Gladiators. It’s just the starting point that began this snowball of a rant.


11 Responses to “Seriously, what’s wrong with failure?”

  1. February 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    I think you’ve spoken to something powerful here. People live as if they are entitled. There are races and societies and schools and so on, whose attitude is that “they deserve”. The only thing we deserve is the journey. and that is only if we take one.

    It scares me to think that schools and even Christian leaders are teaching kids that they can do it and if they try hard they will succeed. The reality is that a very small percentage of people ever win anything.

    God’s Word speaks nicely to this when it says that we should run as in a race. And it is interesting that God points out to us that the prize is in heaven, not here in earth.

    We can compete and try and go for it all we want, but we only win if we came in first place. The reality is though, that the journey is far more enjoyable if we are in it to improve, not just to win. There is a ton of satisfaction in learning and growing and zero satisfaction in losing.

    Thanks for this!

  2. February 18, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Oh man no thank you! I was beginning to think I was insane here. After I posted this not a peep has been said or commented and it was freaking me out. I was hoping for some affirmation or something…anything. I’m glad I’m not alone here.

  3. February 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    absolutely nothing wrong with failure. I mean, everyone wants to be a winner, but without losers there are no winners. That sounds mean, but I’ve been noticing a generation growing up behind me that wants everyone to be the same, and is offended if everything or everyone is not equal. It’s such a strange mentality. Even with some of my friends that are probably the beginning of this generation. There’s a, that’s not fair approach to life. I’m not sure if that makes sense.

    Anyway, they’ve been given so much, that they don’t want to work to win what they want to win.

  4. February 19, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Fairness is an interesting aspect of this. Most people feel it isn’t fair if they always lose, but the reality is that the only thing that
    is fair is that all get to race. Life is not fair. It is a series of ups and downs and close calls. God is the only one who is true and fair and just. This world cannot offer that.

  5. February 19, 2008 at 12:24 am

    This is what I’m talking about! I love, love, love what you said there: “The only thing that is fair is that we all get to race.”

  6. February 19, 2008 at 12:27 am

    By the way, I love your header. Did you design that?

  7. February 19, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I wish. That’s the creative genius of Joel Klampert at Cecworship.wordpress.com

  8. February 19, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Whoa, I just had Dejavu. Have I asked you that before? Once you said Joel did it, I remembered that he had done it. Anyway it’s cool!


  9. February 19, 2008 at 12:38 am

    I love that line as well, “The only thing that is fair is that we all get to race.”

    Is that yours, or did you get that from somewhere?

    I just realized, that I have a blog post up about a friend of mine named Paul Taylor that touches on this fairness/life thing some.

  10. February 19, 2008 at 12:48 am

    That is my phrase, brought on by this discussion. I love what discussions can bring out of you. I have always had a problem with the little kid mentality of crossing your arms and yelling “not fair” when the other kid gets the bigger piece of candy. That has nothing to do with being fair…

    Give us the link to that post portorikan.

  11. February 19, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Never mind, I just clicked on your name and read it 🙂

    Sometimes I am a little slow…

    Sound like Paul has got a great perspective on life.

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