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The other day, I was playing Dr. Mario with my wife Jenn. (We have one of those old 8-bit Nintendo game systems.) Unfortunately, I was doing poorly. After I lost, I was so grumpy that I threw my controller across the room in disgust.

I’m a Bad Loser

I’m not a very good loser. I’m super competitive. When I lose, I can get overwhelmed with frustration. Sometimes the energy comes out sideways, like the other day.

What is a Good Loser?

I’ve always struggled with the idea of being a “good loser.” I hate losing. I’m driven to do my best and compete. Why would I want to accept failure and defeat?

2 Keys to Being a Good Loser

As I have reflected on what it means to be a good loser, I’ve landed on two key principles:

  1. Stay in the game. Sore losers often quit the game. This is what happened to me the other day. I was so frustrated with my performance that I stopped playing. This is a bad idea. In life, when you lose or have a setback, it’s important to stay engaged and not quit. There’s a possibility for growth, change, and improvement, but only if you stay in the game.
  2. Learn from your experience. Sometimes when I lose, I get so frustrated and agitated that my brain shuts off. The emotional part of my brain is in the driver’s seat. When this happens, I struggle to learn from my mistakes. Failure can be one of our greatest teachers. You don’t learn much when you win. But in order to learn from your loss, you have to stay engaged with your whole self (including your brain). Analyze what went wrong. Target the areas of your performance that need work. Put together a plan for improvement. Learn from your experience.

Take Home Message

Being a good loser doesn’t mean accepting failure and defeat. But it does mean that you stay in the game and learn from your experience, so you can improve and do better next time. I’m coming for you Jenn! Time for a rematch!

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