Making Time: The Art of Losing
Accepting something none of us really want

“Daddy, did the Eagles win the Superbowl?”

It was the first question Brandon asked when he woke up the morning after the big game. He had gone to bed after kickoff and knew we had recorded the game because he was too tired to stay awake. 

In case you were wondering, as fun as it is to share the experience of your favorite team going all the way to the championship game, it is almost more painful the morning after when you have to explain a big loss to your kids. But despite the loss, Brandon still wanted to watch the replay of the game and had lots of questions about why the Eagles didn’t win. 

I tried not to let it show that I too was crushed by the result. I didn’t really know how to respond, but I let Brandon know we don’t always win. While I wasn’t looking to make this a teachable moment, I did let him know that sometimes when we lose, we actually have the chance to learn the things we need to help us win next time. 

But as I was reading stories breaking down what went wrong and why, something Jalen Hurts said in the post-game press conference stuck with me: “You either win or you learn.” What a simple statement with so much depth. It wasn’t necessarily that Jalen lacked disappointment – we all were definitely disappointed – but he was just trying to find the positives from one of his most negative professional moments on the biggest stage. Which was something I thought could help.

To be honest, that’s been the story for much of my own life (without the great sports success). I’ve tried to pass onto the boys to never give up. I’ve failed plenty and lost more times than I can count (not that I wanted or tried to). I was hired for one of my first jobs by explaining how I took previous failures as learning experiences. The job hired me because they said I had the perseverance to keep trying, and that I had not let failure stop me.

On the other hand, until I was an adult, I wasn’t always good at failure, or rather, losing. Just ask my brother or sister – they still cringe if the idea of playing ping pong ever comes up. 

We had a table in the basement growing up and I would cheat or create my own rules to the point where they wouldn’t even want to play with me anymore. I was just trying to figure out how not to lose a game. Today, we all sit around and laugh about my inability to lose with grace.

Thankfully, Brandon seems to be learning the art of losing a bit better than me. Not that he doesn’t get extremely disappointed when he doesn’t win. But I watch him play board games with Sarah and me or cards with his grandparents. And while he struggles at times with a loss, he has started to say “good game” or to shake hands and move on. More importantly, he has gotten better each time he plays, regardless of the result. Something it took me until much later in life to learn.

Does Brandon do a little happy dance each time he wins? Sure. Does he have a big pout when he loses? Absolutely. But he hasn’t been making up rules to ensure he solidifies a win like I did. Maybe he will as Adam grows old enough to play with him more. But I do think that he is “winning or learning,” at least for now.  

It certainly does seem that when I write about how we try to teach the boys to do things the right way, this column often turns to me talking through how to get my kids to not do many of the things I did when I was younger. I wasn’t expecting that, and I’m really not sure why that is. But I imagine it will be the same next month. And the month after that.

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


April 2023
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