You Win or You Learn. You Never Lose

Woman learning with laptop

I love competition. Whenever there is an opportunity to compete, I jump right into it. I enjoy the feeling of being challenged, and I revel in the victory that comes with a job well done. 

There is so much growth that happens when you push yourself to compete. As a leader, I even encourage my team to join contests. You learn so much about yourself, get a clearer picture of what you’re good at, and capitalise on your skills through competing in something.

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”

Winston Churchill

However, success takes courage. And, as Winston Churchill said, getting to the point of success means failing without losing your spirit to win. And just like having the courage the compete, you need to nurture the courage to fail. I truly believe that failure teaches you valuable lessons. I feel that’s why I am so competitive. 

Somewhere down the line, having faced so many failures in my life, I have somehow come quite far in overcoming the fear of failing. Getting here meant not giving up on competing, putting myself out there over and over again, and risking having my dreams shattered and my spirit crushed. 

The fear of failure doesn’t completely leave you. However, making progress is about having that courage to be brave. Overcoming the fear to fail also takes practice. The more you compete and put yourself out there, the more comfortable you get with competing, and even failing. 

The underlying fear of failure helps me focus harder on achieving my goals. Of course, getting a taste of victory naturally makes me want to keep improving myself. When I win something, I don’t want to simply stop there. Winning competitions encourages me to pursue excellence continuously. It is also how it is with life and your career: you always strive to reach the next level, and competition helps you achieve that faster. 

Competing also helps me prepare better. When I’m getting ready for a pitch, and I’m up against other agencies, I work on my material ahead of time and make sure that my pitch is fantastic. It’s the same when you join a marathon–you don’t show up at the starting line unprepared, right? You train for months ahead, ensuring that you finish on time (or even beat your personal best) and without injuries. 

But then, competing is not just about winning, is it? 

When you join as many contests as I do, you’re bound to lose as much as you win. But here’s the thing – I don’t necessarily see “losing” as bad. When I get into any competition, I’m there for the challenge and the insights it gives me about myself. 

Over the years, many people have asked me why I subject myself to these competitions. They can be tedious and exhausting. Not to mention, losing can tremendously hurt our ego. And I’ve had some devastating losses in my time. Some have taken me days to recover from.

So are they really worth the heartbreak and effort, you ask? 

Absolutely! I don’t believe that the possibility of losing should keep you from putting yourself in a position to compete. The way I see it, when I rise up to the challenge of a competition, only two things will happen: I win, or I learn. 

There are just as many, maybe even more, benefits when we experience defeat during a competition. Among these are: 

One: It teaches us grit and resilience

There will always be a time when we don’t get the results we want, no matter how we try. Times like this build our character by highlighting our weaknesses, giving us a compass on how we can improve. Losing helps us bounce back better. 

Two: It gives you insight into your strengths

Many unpredictable things can happen in a competition. Our senses are usually on high alert, and we push ourselves to perform at a high level. This helps shed light on particular strengths we didn’t know we had. Consequently, we can capitalise and develop these in the future. 

Three: It helps us be more comfortable with discomfort

Losing can feel quite horrible, so some people avoid competing altogether. But life also doles out difficulties every now and then, and we will always have our fair share of defeats. Experiencing loss in competitions helps us better deal with pain and disappointment, making us stronger, more resilient individuals in the long run.

These are just some of the benefits we can reap from braving competitions and learning to accept failure. As Sara Blakely once said, “Failures are life’s way of nudging you and letting you know you are off-course. Trying new things and not being afraid to fail along the way are more important than what you learn in school.” 

Starting today, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zones and push yourselves. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your career. 

Written by Fe Husaint, Green Park Content

A Women Leading Change of the Year Finalist and one of Campaign Asia’s Women to Watch in 2021, Fe Husaint’s rise to the agency a-list has been meteoric. 

Fe, the Creative and Global Brand Head at an award-winning and performance-driven content leader Green Park Content, grew the creative production team from one Art Director to the 50-person strong team it is today, working with top international brands like Unilever, Kodak, Ricola, and Relx. 

Prior to joining Green Park Content in 2018, Fe worked with giants such as Ogilvy where she setup and lead an integrated marketing division. With her extensive experience building global brands, Fe offers a clear view on how to tackle brand and content marketing obstacles to make messaging locally relevant.

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