On Turning a Loss into a Gain


If you’re going to lose—and you are because everyone does—then why not turn it into a gain? How do you do that?

If you’re going to lose—and you are because everyone does—then why not turn it into a gain? How do you do that? By learning from it. A loss isn’t totally a loss if you learn something as a result of it. Your losses can come to define you if you let them. If you stay where a loss leaves you, then eventually you can get stuck there. But know this: your choices will begin to declare you. You can choose to change, grow, and learn from your losses.

That, of course, is not necessarily easy. In a favorite Peanuts comic strip Charlie Brown walks away from Lucy after a baseball game, head down, totally dejected.

“Another ball game lost! Good grief!” Charlie moans. “I get tired of losing. Everything I do, I lose!”

“Look at it this way, Charlie Brown,” Lucy replies. “We learn more from losing than we do from winning.”

“That makes me the smartest person in the world!” replies Charlie.

It’s a good thought, but not everyone learns from his losses. A loss doesn’t turn into a lesson unless we work hard to make it so. Losing gives us an opportunity to learn, but many people do not seize it. And when they don’t, losing really hurts.

Learning is not easy during down times because it requires us to do things that are not natural. It is hard to smile when we are not happy. It is difficult to positively respond when numb with defeat. It takes discipline to do the right thing when everything goes wrong. How can we be emotionally strong when we are emotionally exhausted? How will we face others when we are humiliated? How do we get back up when we are continually knocked down?

I wrote Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn to answer these and others questions about learning from losses, because I believe it can help you. My primary goal in life is adding value to people. I hope the book will add value to you, teaching you how to learn from your losses. Most of us need someone to help us figure out how to do that. If that is your desire—to become a learner from losses—you need to change the way you look at losses, cultivate qualities that help you respond to them, and develop the ability to learn from them. I believe you can do that using this road map:

  • Humility—The Spirit of Learning
  • Reality—The Foundation of Learning
  • Responsibility—The First Step of Learning
  • Improvement—The Focus of Learning
  • Hope—The Motivation of Learning
  • Teachability—The Pathway of Learning
  • Adversity—The Catalyst for Learning
  • Problems—Opportunities for Learning
  • Bad Experiences—The Perspective for Learning
  • Change—The Price of Learning
  • Maturity—The Value of Learning

Saint Ignatius Loyola, one of the world’s greatest educators, once said that we learn only when we are ready to learn. As I have traveled and met leaders around the world, I have observed two things. First, most people are currently experiencing difficult times. The idea for this book actually came to me while on a speaking tour through Asia. I could sense that people were having trouble, and I wanted to find a way to help them navigate through difficult waters. Second, I’ve never experienced a time like the present, when so many people are open not only to learning but also to reexamining their values and priorities. If you see things the right way, losses are opportunities to change and improve.

It is probable that you are at a place in your life where you have suffered some losses and are now ready to learn. Emmet Fox said that difficulties come to you at the right time to help you grow and move forward by overcoming them. “The only real misfortune,” he observed, “the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”

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