Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Losing is good for you

Ed Latimore explains why losing can be beneficial, even losing in a public and humiliating manner:
Despite my obnoxious posting about my fight on Showtime this last weekend, I hope you had something better to do than watch. If you didn’t, then I’ll fill you in. I got stopped in the 1st round.

It’s heavyweight boxing. When you have two men over 200 lbs throwing hard shots, someone is bound to go down. My opponent (quite the affable fellow outside the ring), landed a great short right over my jab and the fight was short lived after that.

It’s a terrible way to lose. Worse, it was live for the whole world to see. It’s awful but it’s part of life. I move on and become better from it.

In many ways, I learned more from this 3 minutes (technically speaking, the referee called a stop to the contest sometime after the 2-minute mark) than I did from the rest of my 9-year career in boxing. Life is funny this way.

If you can look at things the right way, you learn more from failure than success. Jay-Z once said, “I will not lose for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned so that evens it up for me”.

Here are 8 valuable lessons I learned from losing on national television.

Embarrassment is the worst emotion to feel 

It’s miserable because there’s no real way to confront or conquer it. You can face your fears. You can cheer yourself up if your sad. Embarrassment is just a burden you bear until it heals. The one fortunate thing about embarrassment is that like all other negative emotions, it is extremely susceptible to the power of gratitude.
These are the lessons that gammas never learn, because their fear of failure and the humiliation they wrongly believe it necessarily entails precludes them from putting themselves at risk of failure. They don't understand that the lessons one learns from losing not only makes success more likely in the future, but that there is no shame whatsoever in a defeat in which one genuinely did one's best and was simply overcome by a superior opponent.

The most ferociously competitive team with which I was ever associated was the kid's soccer team I coached about ten years ago. Their first year, they lost every game, and usually badly. As a result, they developed a total immunity to any fear of losing, and, much to the confusion of the other teams, would celebrate every rare goal as if they had won the game. Two years later, they upset the provincial champions who were affiliated with the main professional club in the region by beating them in the championship games of both of the major tournaments. The next year, they went undefeated, won both tournaments again, and this time, only allowed a handful of goals the entire season.

They weren't particularly big or particularly skilled, but the combination of their intensity and their total lack of fear was intimidating, even to the parents watching them. "They are wolves with a taste for blood," one opposing coach memorably said, shaking his head, after a game in which I put our leading scorer into goal to prevent him from running up the score, started talking to one player's father, then looked up to see the kid bringing the ball up past midfield to send a perfect cross to a teammate for another goal. The kid was so goal-hungry that I practically had to tie the kid to the bench to keep him from putting the ball in the net.

And it was their season of "humiliating failure", all those 13-1 and 10-0 losses, that forged them into an extraordinarily successful team.

Read the rest there.

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Blogger The Observer October 04, 2017 4:38 AM  

"That which does not kill you makes you stronger."

Anonymous 8859 ways to be fun. October 04, 2017 5:03 AM  

While neither Farrah Fawcett Majors, nor Vox's soccer team kids have killed me, I don't think either has made me much stronger either.

Anonymous SciVo de Plorable October 04, 2017 5:19 AM  

I was just thinking about this today, how "humble confidence" makes you fierce and indestructible. I don't even care if I'm right going in to a tussle, because it's a win/win -- either I will give a lesson or I will learn one. Either way, right coming out.

Blogger Nate73 October 04, 2017 5:26 AM  

I was thinking about this today when I was taking out the trash and almost slipped and fell on the wet tile by my front door. If I had hit the ground it would have been unbelievably, horribly painful. I try to always be careful when water + smooth surfaces are around. But it's a terrifying feeling for that split second when I didn't know what would happen. What you see as picking oneself up and becoming stronger, a gamma sees and feels as spinning wildly out of control and face-planting into the cold, muddy pavement.

Anonymous Adam October 04, 2017 5:39 AM  

One of the things I've learned in life is that failure can come at you at any time and in many different forms, and it is indifferent to previous success. What stays the same is how you harness and learn from the lessons it provides. Ed Latimore reads like a guy who has his head screwed on right.

Blogger Roger Hill October 04, 2017 6:04 AM  

Your young team's experience is very similar to that of my son who played junior football within the local summer league. The first year his team was together they not only lost every game, they got stomped EVERY GAME. It was hard to watch, and I'm sure it was hard for them to endure. Yet by the following year, they took home the 1st place trophy.

There is indeed something liberating about losing the fear of failure.

Blogger Lovekraft October 04, 2017 6:06 AM  

You have to 'have your heart in the right place' which is tied into the conscience in how you approach your actions. Anything coming from selfishness or dishonorable motives may appear beneficial on its surface, but karma or the law of causality comes back to bite you in the a$$.

If you develop a sound morality and ethics, your actions, even though they appear wrong, will allow you to deal with negative consequences much more easily and allow you to address the issue without the 'baggage' of covering ones tracks or deflection.

Anonymous Killua October 04, 2017 6:24 AM  

"I am so embarrased, I wish everyone else was dead" Bender from Futurama.

I can relate ;-)

Blogger Akulkis October 04, 2017 6:26 AM  

Teddy Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech.

Blogger JACIII October 04, 2017 6:46 AM  

Repeated blows to the head haven't degraded Latimore's thinking. Maybe NFL players are just stupid to begin with.

Anonymous basementhomebrewer October 04, 2017 6:50 AM  

there is no shame whatsoever in a defeat

There can only be shame in the way you react to it.

Anonymous Steve October 04, 2017 6:50 AM  

I saw the title and thought this was gonna be about Scalzi.

Anonymous JAG October 04, 2017 6:59 AM  

Just imagine if the conservatives learned from losing, because nobody has done more losing than they have. They should be savage beasts metaphorically drinking goblets filled to the brim with hot steaming Democrat blood.

Anonymous Perfunctory Quotidian October 04, 2017 6:59 AM  

I can remember embarrassments from 30 years ago more vividly than most pleasant experiences. I wish I could remember pleasant things so vividly over such a long time.

Blogger Josh (the sexiest thing here) October 04, 2017 7:01 AM  

This is why it's vital for boys to play sports.

Blogger ZhukovG October 04, 2017 7:03 AM  

Mr. Latimore seems to have a good head on his shoulders. I hope he changes careers while that is still true.

More to the point, I too once embarrassed myself in front of thousands. My failure was also televised, which just made it all the more special. While it was not nearly so lofty an event as a heavyweight boxing match, I can at least empathize.

One thing I take from my own assorted failures is this:

Failure is a Grace that protects me from the damning sin of Pride. It teaches me that my place is not on the throne of my life, but at the feet of my Lord.

Blogger ZhukovG October 04, 2017 7:09 AM  

@JAG: Conservatives, 'losing nobly', are not failing. They are succeeding in carrying out the role their 'masters' have assigned them. They will learn nothing until brought to account for their treason.

Blogger wgmeisheid October 04, 2017 7:23 AM  

I would venture an old cliche but a truth non the less that losing exposes the character and determination in an individual or the lack of it. Failure can be the impetus to later success or the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back and what it is in within the person that forms the wedge of difference is difficult to ascertain. That is why failure early on is so important in separating the precious from the dross.

We will all eventually fail, and more than once or twice if we make any effort at all. And, despite an apparent lack of understanding to its reality, not trying is its own form of failure. So, embrace your failure as significant learning experiences, for that is what they are and why God allows us to choose and to sin, since it becomes for those who repent an important learning experience on our road of discipleship.

Anonymous I'm Not a Fascist. But My Sons Are. October 04, 2017 7:33 AM  

was simply overcome by a superior opponent.

That's just it, though. It is the very idea that superior and inferior exist as objective, empirically verifiable phenomena that completely enrages some people; reflexively, viscerally.

Resentment, jealousy and envy are the wellspring from which some flow. It shapes everything and informs them of their entire worldview. Trying to 'teach' them differently is a Sisyphean task.

Short version: Three cheers for 'oppression'.

Anonymous Anonymous October 04, 2017 7:57 AM  

One of those power of positive thinking types - I think it was Carnegie - said that what happens TO you is insignificant compared to what happens IN you. It’s kinda trite but also true.

My experience is that the people who will never learn anything from losing will learn even worse things from winning.

The OP kind of person will also use winning as a learning experience rather than a me me me opportunity ...

Anonymous CoolHand October 04, 2017 7:59 AM  

My little league baseball teams lost every game of every season I played. They didn't start winning until I decided that I liked cars more than baseball.

Wait a minute....


Anonymous Anonymous October 04, 2017 8:00 AM  

I would add that embracing your failures doesn’t mean you climb to the top of the Empire State Building and try to fly.

There’s ways to fail quickly AND cheaply that won’t lose you your job family home and dog ...

Anonymous Big bark. Not so much bite. October 04, 2017 8:14 AM  

Losing helps if you learn from it and use it to see what you have to work on and then work on those things.

Blogger Dirtnapninja October 04, 2017 8:21 AM  

"Orkses is never defeated in battle. If we win we win, if we die we die fighting so it don't count. If we runs for it we don't die neither, cos we can come back for annuver go, see!"

Blogger Unknown October 04, 2017 8:29 AM  

Ah yes,my secret decoder ring,probably in the same box with all my baseball the attic of a house I once lived in...

Anonymous CarpeOro October 04, 2017 8:31 AM  

Failure is how you identify areas to improve, skills to strengthen. That and sometimes pushes you to make the move you should have made already.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 04, 2017 8:48 AM  

There are failures and there are failures.

Setbacks in the attempt to gain a margin of success are the former, and setbacks there can and should be instructive.

The latter come in a couple flavors:
1. A mistake (irrevocable action) that is embarrassing forever but remains a lifelong lesson.
2. A mistake (irrevocable action) that involves lifelong contrition.
3. A mistake (irrevocable action) that is a lifelong deal-breaker.

A failure like driving drunk/impaired and killing someone is #3; no amount of contrition can smooth it over. A failure like cheating on a spouse is also #3. Sadly, so is a history of behaving badly to others. Everything we do becomes a part of us, in part because we permanently remember it all, in part because so does everyone else.

Our society is sick because so few people seem to grasp that there are some failures (of self-control & self-discipline) from which the lessons are closed-ended, permanent and insurmountable. Pretty Woman is a lie.

Blogger BassmanCO October 04, 2017 8:49 AM  

Congratulations, you won the award for the stupidest comment on the Internet today, 8859 ways to be fun.

Anonymous Iron Spartan October 04, 2017 8:50 AM  

If you have never failed, then you have never pushed your limits. If you have never pushed your limits, how do you know what you are truly capable of?

Never trust a man who hasn't been punched in the face, and never trust a man who can't laugh at at least one thing he failed at.

Failing helps you identify were you need to work, as a person or as a team. Failure leads to growth. Even Gatorade has an ad campaign based on that.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 04, 2017 8:51 AM  

Getting better at things involves failures along the way, but structuring the process so the failures are small and surmountable might be as important as striving in the first place.

It doesn't pay to train "full contact" for the battle if, by the time it arrives in earnest, you're literally crippled from training "mistakes."

Blogger Mr.MantraMan October 04, 2017 9:01 AM  

Feminized society, momma don't want anything bad to happen to her spawn, and boys might actually believe females when they say they don't want to see anyone embarrassed but of course they do want that.

Blogger Elocutioner October 04, 2017 9:09 AM  

I've been following Ed on Twitter for a couple of years. He's humble and smart. Definitely worth following.

Anonymous Grayman October 04, 2017 9:16 AM  

It is absolutely amazing to see this in action. My son competes in Judo and in his first competition had to go against someone who had been training almost 2 years more then him and was a belt level higher. he was given the choice of not fighting since there was no one at his skill level and weight class. He chose to fight.
He lost by 1 point and fought 110%. After that match he became and absolute monster on the mat. he had faced someone bigger and badder and proven to himself that he could take it and come back for more. His entire demeanor changed and he his now more confident in his ability to face the world then most adults will ever be

And similar to the soccer story, he now tends to dominate his matches and regularly ask to fight higher belts. The pride in seeing your 10 yr old face fear head on, literally one-on-one in front of a crowd and come away grabbing the world by the balls with a big F U, is beyond words.

Blogger pdwalker October 04, 2017 9:32 AM  

One of the many reasons I love, love, love playing judo is that in losing, you win because you learn so much from fighting more skilled opponents.

If I were prideful, I'd hate being beaten, but judo has no place for excess pride, only the joy of the experiencing superior technique.

(Truth: the moment I start feeling cocky, I can find a world class player to remind me how far I have to go)

Anonymous peter October 04, 2017 9:35 AM  

I generally despise these sport stories .. Its making more of it that what it really is... And the down aide of youth sports is much greater than the occasional upbeat story.. Especially in youth football. I spent close to.20 years teaching kids to play baseball, pitch etc.. We wine lots of games But in the end if I had spent the same amount of time teaching them math, or how to code, they would have been much better served in life.

Blogger Russ October 04, 2017 9:45 AM  

“Make mistakes and keep moving.” I tell my kids a half dozen times a day. Don’t worry. Don’t stop to erase or correct it. Just learn and do better next time.

Blogger Ned October 04, 2017 9:52 AM  

Great lesson on the soccer team, Vox. I had a friend who coached the "worst" little league team ever with similar results.

Anonymous vfm #0202 October 04, 2017 10:03 AM  


Anonymous Sheiko29 October 04, 2017 10:04 AM  

This, along with the obvious social and physical benefits, is a primary reason I will push youth sports. Falling down, getting back up, learning.

As to future success, I recall a University of Kansas study finding athletes did better in school. Purely anecdotal, but most of the six-figure guys I know played a team sport. Typically football. And lacrosse, naturally.

Blogger James Dixon October 04, 2017 10:38 AM  

Whether failure is good for me or not, I've had more than enough failures in my life not to be too worried by one more.

It's like being wrong. We're all wrong on occasion. Admit your mistake and move on.

Anonymous Anonymous October 04, 2017 10:50 AM  

Congratulations, you won the award for the stupidest comment on the Internet today, 8859 ways to be fun.

Indeed...comment fail. #Irony

Anonymous Anonymous October 04, 2017 11:01 AM  

Dang, Latimore is Buckaroo Banzai. Somebody give him a guitar!

Blogger VFM #7634 October 04, 2017 11:27 AM  

This also explains, I suspect, the Omega-to-Sigma phenomenon.

Anonymous Avalanche October 04, 2017 12:17 PM  

@20 "what happens TO you is insignificant compared to what happens IN you."

When my husband died and left me trying to figure out how to carry on his MFG biz, my new motto became: "I have no choice!" If I had to do something that I reeeeeally didn't want to, or that could fail badly (and expensively, including a $5k lesson I really would rather NOT have had!), I would fortify myself with: "I have no choice!"

I also (intentionally) formed a new "self-description" (it may have been Scott Adams' stuff that suggested this...): "I'm a youngish widow who does NOT resist asking for help."

As a life-long "I'd rather do it myself"person, I think I'd hemmed myself in with the negative (no choice) and the positive (asking for help). (I suppose it would have been more positive if it were: "I'm a youngish widow who willingly asks for help," but small steps!)

Blogger Latigo3 October 04, 2017 12:20 PM  

Thanks for this Vox.
Reading this posting and article helped to remind me of a couple of things and one of them is why I read you blog and books. Reading this has actually helped to clarify what has been happening to me in the last few weeks.
It completes the 24 hour eye-opening that I have had.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents October 04, 2017 12:23 PM  

@14. Perfunctory Quotidian
I can remember embarrassments from 30 years ago more vividly than most pleasant experiences. I wish I could remember pleasant things so vividly over such a long time.

That's your brain trying to protect you from a bad experience. Something now reminded your amygdala of then, and it's reminding you "Ooooh, bad thing happened". But it's working overtime now. This isn't your brain reminding you not to stop a car on the railroad tracks, this is wasted emotion.

You can learn to remember pleasant things by working at it. When one of those embarrassing memories pops up it brings the emotions with it. Don't put up with that. Deliberately think of a different situation from that time that had a good outcome. Get a little mad with your brain, "I don't need that pushed in my face!" Remind yourself how you learned from the experience, "For sure I won't do that again".

Then let it go and deliberately think and do something constructive. Even "I will now clean out the car" or "I will now tidy my desk" or something. "I'm too busy improving my life now to
waste brainpower on past events".

Don't let your brain overprotect you like some Boomertard helicopter mom, "Timmy! Don't go out in the yard without your shoes! Remember when you were 5 and got a sticker in your foot?", yeah but I'm 16 now and taking the trash to the curb, ok?

Blogger RobertT October 04, 2017 12:53 PM  

There is no such thing as bad press. Controversy sells. The more famous you become, the richer you become.

Blogger ZhukovG October 04, 2017 2:10 PM  

@VFM #7634: What is the "Omega-to-Sigma phenomenon"?

Blogger SirHamster October 04, 2017 2:33 PM  

ZhukovG wrote:@VFM #7634: What is the "Omega-to-Sigma phenomenon"?

Omega and Sigma are sociosexual hierarchy spots. The Omega, as a social outcast, tends to become a Sigma rather than an Alpha if he manages to reach the top and become attractive to women.

That time spent being the loser would also fuel such an Omega's success.

Blogger VFM #7634 October 04, 2017 3:45 PM  

@SirHamster @ZhukovG
Sort of. Transfer this soccer team's attitude toward games and losing to an Omega-to-Sigma's attitude toward women. One thing that attractive women find very impressive in a man is if he has a total lack of fear toward them. (Conversely, it's yet another reason they hate Gammas and dismiss Deltas.)

Heartiste has said that most womanizers tend to be "late bloomers". Related, even if not exact.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer October 04, 2017 4:11 PM  

You can tell a lot about people by their reaction to Trump's bankruptcies.

Well adjusted, confident people see that he has had some setbacks, but ultimately succeeded. They see that he must be resilient and that he learns from his mistakes. They know that if you haven't failed at something then you haven't been trying very hard. Its like mistakes, the only people who don't make mistakes are people who aren't doing anything.

Then you have the people who point at the bankruptcies and scream that he is a failure. If you point out that he is a successful builder in a cut throat business and had a hit TV show has a beautiful wife and lives in the lap of luxury they don't care. He failed at something once, so he is a failure. Successful people never, ever fail at anything.

Anonymous Perfunctory Quotidian October 04, 2017 8:20 PM  


Good advice thanks.

I still get mad when I think of a few minor incidents that happened to me in elementary school. Sometimes I fantasize about finding some of these people again, now in late middle age, living their probably mediocre lives just so that I can finally tell them what I think about them to their faces. Yet I know how dumb that sounds.

Anonymous Perfunctory Quotidian October 04, 2017 8:25 PM  


"A failure like cheating on a spouse is also #3. Sadly, so is a history of behaving badly to others. Everything we do becomes a part of us, in part because we permanently remember it all, in part because so does everyone else."

Yet, astounding as it is to contemplate, there are plenty of people who somehow manage to go through life in blissful (?) oblivion of the damage they've done to people, emotionally and otherwise, over the course of their lives.

Sometimes these types are just losers of no import, who never learn their lesson, wallowing in self-pity (poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.) Other times they seem to be successful -- the cliche of the Hollywood empty suit or shark-like lawyer.

A part of me perversely admires this type, sometimes, but I have to wonder what they sacrifice to be that type of person.

Blogger James Dixon October 04, 2017 9:46 PM  

> Successful people never, ever fail at anything.

Yeah, some people seem to feel that way. Which only goes to show that they feel that they've never been successful at anything. Otherwise they'd know better.

> ...but I have to wonder what they sacrifice to be that type of person.

Nothing of importance to them, just their soul.

Blogger David Power October 05, 2017 5:14 AM  

T. H. Was wrong on many things but on this he was dead right...

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood…and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Anonymous Clay October 10, 2017 9:17 PM  

Well maybe I'm not right, as usual....but I seem to remember: Harvey, in an interview with one of the nudie mags, Penthouse, maybe, as saying he was a fagggot, bending over the hoods of cars, while he was cornholed by many men.

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