The Success of Failure – Losing to Win

While running this afternoon, I was watching a news segment debating the merits of declaring every child a winner. It seems ever more prevalent to give each child in a sporting event a trophy, not just the winners. Or note the example of a new mercy rule fining a football team for winning by more than 35 points. Are these good things? Should all kids be declared winners?

I think not. How can we really know what success is if we don’t understand failure? Is it really possible to excel unless we know what it is to not be good at something? Can we truly be a winner if we can never lose?

I can remember my dad letting me win games and also beating me at games growing up. I happen to remember though, that losing, not winning motivated me more. When I failed, I wanted to succeed. When I failed consistently, I either tried that much harder or finally gave up to discover some activity I was better at. I’m afraid telling our children they’re good at everything will “fail” to motivate them. It appears to me that only a decent dose of “failure” adequately motivates one to succeed. Losing can actually teach us to become winners.

One thought on “The Success of Failure – Losing to Win

  1. And by the same token, if children “win” even when putting forth little effort, we will raise a generation of underachievers who never learn to push themselves.


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