Don’t be a sore loser: 5 ways to handle a loss like a boss
There can be victory in defeat.
Japan’s soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup on Monday. But they came out looking like winners by bowing to their fans in the stands after the devastating loss to Belgium.
Oh, and they also cleaned their locker room on the way out, CNN reported, and left their Russian hosts a thank you note (written in Russian) inside the now-spotless changing room.
Amazing from Japan.
This is how they left the changing room after losing v Belgium: cleaned it all.
And in the middle, have left a message to Russia: “Spasibo” (Thank you) pic.twitter.com/lrwoIZt2pR
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 3, 2018
And the players weren’t the only good sports. Japanese fans have stayed after every one of their team’s matches at the global soccer tournament to help clean their section of the stadium, leading Sports Illustrated to say the losing team has actually “won the World Cup.” Senegalese fans also tidied up their stadium section after beating France a couple of weeks ago.
Geste rare et citoyen des sénégalais qui ont nettoyé leur parcage après le match 🇸🇳🤝
On peut les féliciter et encourager tous les supporters du monde à agir comme eux 👏 pic.twitter.com/GJ9dAh80AP
— Times Foot #WorldCup (@timesfoot_) June 19, 2018
Japan’s graceful exit is reminiscent of when Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill just missed throwing a no-hitter last summer, when he gave up a walk-off home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in extra innings on his 99th pitch; losing the game. Hill also just lost out on a perfect game after the third baseman made an error in the ninth inning.
But when Hill approached the press afterward, he gamely stuck up for his teammate, and vowed to come out swinging again.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, getting in the gym and getting ready for the next outing,” said Hill, 37. “We have a lot of great things going on here. Tomorrow is a big game. We have to take the series and get back home.”
Now that’s how you handle a loss like a boss.
“Everyone likes to be around a winner – and that doesn’t mean the person that wins the most games,” career coach Heather Monahan, a.k.a. The Boss in Heels, told Moneyish. “That means the person with the winning attitude.”
No one’s perfect, and it’s inevitable that we’re all going to bomb a sales pitch, presentation or some other work project at some point, or be on the losing team. So here’s what we can learn from Hill about turning a loss into a win.
Accept what you can and can’t control. Dr. Jonathan Fader, director of mental conditioning for the New York Giants who was the New York Mets’ team psychologist for nine seasons, told Moneyish that recognizing what is and isn’t in your hands helps to just let it go when it doesn’t work out. “Nolan Ryan once said that a pitcher has two jobs: To choose the pitch and to execute it. What happens after that is out of your hands,” Dr. Fader said. “Likewise, if you’re a trader, you can pick this stock based on all of the statistical variants you know, but you don’t have any control over unexpected bumps in the market,” which can send your stock plummeting.
Take a beat to reset yourself. So exactly how do you “shake it off” or “let it go?” Dr. Fader coaches players in mental conditioning and mindfulness to do a quick “reset” right after something goes wrong. “When you watch baseball players closely, you’ll see the pitcher or the batter taking a deep breath before each pitch, or looking at a focal point, like a blade of grass or a flagpole, to center themselves,” he said. “Approach each moment independently.” So if an interview isn’t going well, or you get off to a rough start during a presentation or performance, just focus on something in the room, take a deep breath and start over.
Embrace a new perspective. Dr. Fader’s players also practice gratitude, which helps them to be good sports through wins and losses. “If you think, ‘I am so grateful that I get to compete at the highest level,’ the one or two negative results don’t loom as large,” he said. Apply that same approach to your job – you’re lucky that you get to do what you love, or you’re blessed to have a gig that supports your family, or you’re working with a great team. That appreciation can help you take setbacks in stride.
Build resilience. Losses feel catastrophic in the moment, so look at the big picture: You’ve survived worse, and you can survive this, too. “While dropping the ball on a new account and taking a professional hit can be difficult, that can never compare to other personal challenges in your life that you have overcome,” said Monahan, who suggests keeping a journal of the tough times you’ve already handled. “Reminding yourself of traumatic situations that you have lived through will bring your strength and the ability to see your current situation as less than dire in the moment.”
Take action. Hill didn’t dwell on the perfect no-hitter that wasn’t. He told the press that he was already looking to Thursday night’s game, and planning to hit the gym. “The decision to take action and change your situation is the single most impactful thing you can do,” said Monahan. “What action can you take today to change your situation and set you up for success the next time opportunity knocks on your door?”
This article was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated with Japan’s soccer team.
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