Editor’s note: this post was first posted in 2010.
Another Editor’s Note: This post is in reference to a blogging competition that I entered in 2010 and lost. It is interesting to note that, not a month later, I actually won another blogging competition and went on to become one of The Top Ten Blogs for Writers in 2010. (I went on to win that title for a second time in a row this past December.) It was moment that dramatically changed my life and my career. But when I wrote the following post, I did not know that was about to happen to me. All I knew is that I tried really hard to win a blogging competition and I lost. So there’s a bonus lesson for you: pay close attention to the way you frame your mind during your current failure, because it will dictate your future success.
- Ollin, July 2012
(Still on a break from the blog, but I’ll be returning with new posts on September 3, 2012!)
I’ll get straight to the point: I lost. You must be wondering how I feel. Well, I feel incredibly… happy.
“How so?” you say. Well, I’ve come to the point where I lost enough times in my life that I’ve now been able to create a system that prepares me for any loss and its aftermath. Lucky for you, I’m a blogger, so you get to learn what this system is. Here ya go:
1. Prepare Yourself
People are often told to take risks and put themselves out there, but I think that is an irresponsible thing to tell people. Unless, that is, you also tell them: “Make sure to really prepare yourself just in case you don’t win.” I’m not even talking about a plan B, or about having the financial resources. I’m talking about emotionally preparing yourself for a loss. Because what keeps us from moving on after a loss is not that we don’t have a Plan B, or don’t have the financial resources, it is really that the emotional toll can be so great that it can make us really unable to move forward with ANY plans. The best way to prepare yourself for a potential loss is to realize that losing is a very real possibility and you should think long and hard about how you’re going to choose to react to that loss if it were to happen.
2. Make Sure There is Still Hidden Rewards For Your Efforts
Don’t take a risk unless there are still benefits that can be gained from the process. If taking a risk means that, when you lose, you’ll still not learn anything or gain anything, then I suggest not taking that risk. For example, I knew it was going to be challenging to win the blogger competition, so I made sure that there were still benefits to just entering the competition. Actually, a friend of mine pointed out those benefits. He said: “You know, even if you don’t win you’ll still draw a lot more readers to your blog.” And that was the perfect hidden reward! So make sure that there are hidden rewards for simply engaging in the process so that if even if you do lose, you’ll still win.
3. Ask Yourself: “What Have I Learned?”
When you do lose, make sure to take note of what you’ve learned. I guess you can say that learning is in itself a reward, but not necessarily. Learning from a loss isn’t a reward for the moment--but it is a potential reward for the future. For instance, in this competition I learned not to hesitate. If I hadn’t hesitated I would have joined the competition a week earlier, and then I might have had twice as many votes! Which means I would have been a lot closer to winning. So I will take a note of that lesson and utilize it for the future. I know now that I should take every wonderful opportunity as soon as it presents itself. This lesson learned will increase the likelihood of me winning in the future.
4. Pick Yourself Up Quick
I learned this one from my older brother. When I didn’t get into a graduate school for Creative Writing, I remember asking him how he dealt with failure. He told me: “You just gotta learn how to pick yourself up quick after you lose.” I now know that he was absolutely right.
It’s important to have something else in line just in case you do lose. In fact, have dozens of things waiting in line. I made sure that when I started this competition that this was not going to be the only career move that I was gonna to make. Now that I’ve lost, I still have several things lined up, and because I’m so busy thinking about these things, I don’t really have time to stay stuck in my loss. I have propelled myself into action before I could even freeze. I’ve “picked myself up quick” so the loss couldn’t get to me.
Not that the loss could get to me even if it tried. Because the way I see it–I actually didn’t lose. I won. How did I win? I made winning the “trying.” Which brings me to my last point:
5. Make Winning “The Trying”
Before I even started this competition, I set myself up to win. How did I do that? Well, as I have said before, I had this tremendous fear of rejection when it came to my writing career (and other things.) That’s why I hadn’t made a big move towards my writing career ever since I applied to graduate school. That was like two years ago. So, to actually put myself out there in this competition, to actually risk losing again–that was a monumental feat for me. I knew that if all I did was enter this competition and tried my best to win, then that was already a BIG WIN for me.
So, as everyone else in the blogger competition was busy trying to see if they got enough votes to win, I was focused on something else. I noticed something more important was happening. Something more important than this competition. Something that was changing inside of me.
What was that?
My fear of rejection just went up in smoke.
Poof. Just like that. Gone.
And that’s why I’m incredibly happy. For others, today may have been another day that they lost. To me, it was the day I got over my fear of rejection when it came to my writing career. To others, today is a day to pout. To me…
It’s a brand new day.
Thank you for your love and support. I truly, deeply appreciate it.
much “1,062 votes of” love,