A Guide To Turning Every Loss Into A Win

This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my romantic relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one we inevitably have to improve the other.

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,


*This post is in reference to a blogging competition that I entered and lost.

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22 comments on “A Guide To Turning Every Loss Into A Win

  1. Agatha82 says:

    Aw the thing that bugged me about that contest was that people were being chosen only by how many votes they had (unless I got that wrong) – It SHOULD have been based on a critique of their work, to make it more fair, because someone who entered the competition, say, a month ago (or whenever it began) would always have a better chance at having a zillion votes than someone who entered 2 weeks ago, and that to me, made the competition unfair. I’m glad you got that many votes, I was voting every day for you 🙂

    You’re a winner already, because you take so much time to write this blog. Something not all of us do. I only write when something strikes my fancy whenever that is 😉

    • Ollin says:

      True. But I think that a big part of a bloggers job is being able to drum up an audience. I’m very happy with the content I create, but I know I have to improve on getting more readers. But don’t worry, this process has taught me a lot about how to drum up more views and support. It’s one of the lessons that will help me win something like this in the future. Thank you for your support! 🙂

  2. Ollin – Great post and happy to see your perspective. I recently had a test in my martial arts class and also had to overcome my fear of not passing the test in order to do it. My instructor asked at the beginning of class if I was ready and I hedged. He asked what was holding me back…and I said “I am sooooo nervous.” He said, “oh, if that is all, you will be fine”… more details on my Nov 10 post – http://workingtechmom.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/do-you-know-the-riddle/

    I tested, I passed, I learned another lesson. Take the leap of faith. That’s what you did too. Congrats and keep writing!

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks workingtechmom. Yeah, I guess that fear is with anything we do right? We just need to get past the fear that’s all, once we do that, we’re a success! I’m glad you passed. 🙂

  3. milkfever says:

    I missed all the competition details while I was away, so didn’t get to vote, but let me just state, for the record, that I consider you to be a winner, Ollin. Absolutely. You always will be. You’re a joy and an inspiration and certainly have my vote. 🙂

  4. Congratulations, Ollin. For the bright revelation 😉

    I know, the world of opportunities didn’t just end here, and yes, it’s super-good that you managed to bag that many votes in a few days. You did start late on the contest, and still managed to gather that many votes!! Woo-hoo.

    I love your definition: “much “1,062 votes of” love,”

    -BrownEyed 🙂

  5. jannatwrites says:

    Still a strong finish you can be proud of. I’m glad it was a positive experience for you and you were able to draw so much from it.

  6. Short Poems says:

    Congratulations, Ollin 🙂

  7. *clap* *clap* You did it man – You entered, played with the big boys and won our hearts. In a way, we were all standing there next to you, competing with our loyalty.

    Thanks for this opportunity and the amazing revelation. As usual, you tread the path first.

  8. Such great advice on how to approach failure realistically, Ollin. We do ourselves no failure by living in denial when it happens or deluding ourselves that it won’t happen in the first place. The quicker we accept, the quicker we can look to the proverbial bright side of the situation. Congrats on all the votes you received!

    • Ollin says:

      Yup. I used to be of the kind that said: “failure is not an option” and so would go about just believing everything would go my way. That’s not a good way to approach things. You will often be disappointed. Better to be prepared I say, and also to have a better perspective on things in general.

  9. Cities of the Mind says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t win, but considering you started when the hourglass was half empty, being in the top of the pack is pretty damned good. And I think you’re exactly right; it’s not a loss, it’s an experience you’re going to gain from.

  10. Addy says:

    I would just like to quote a message that I received:

    “If you fall, try and see the place where you slipped rather than the place where you fell”

    Really amazing post! I too had recently lost in a writing contest despite being one of the finalists, but I now have much bigger and better plans about what I can do with my work and thoughts!

    No point cribbing! Just move on!

    All the best!

  11. […] My regular readers know that I entered a blogging contest before this one. They also know that I lost that competition. […]

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